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I first heard this concept recently at a PTA meeting. In light of the current financial crisis, I thought it appropriate. One can also see the correlation to discipleship. It is good to realize that disciplined lives are the standard suggested and even demanded by scripture. But it is also good to note that there is an ambulance at the bottom of the hill–or, to be more specific, a cross at the top of a hill.

the ambulance at the bottom of the hill

the bailout -- the rescue

“The Ambulance Down in the Valley.”

‘ Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant,
But over its terrible edge there had slipped,
A duke and full many a peasant.

So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “Put a fence around the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city,
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became moved with pity,

For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers on highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked, “it’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing the results than to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.

“Let us stop at its source all this hurt,” cried he.
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”

While current economics is all about the ambulance, there’s never a way to regulate to the point that no risk is ever involved. To keep with the analogy, we need a decent fence and a first aid kit at the bottom of the hill. In other words, the pros are calling for more regulations, but no one thinks that there will never be another government intervention in Wall Street.

Discipleship is very similar. We can’t “dispense with the ambulance.” We need Jesus. But we also have a responsibility to regulate our lives with the spiritual disciplines of Jesus’ teachings.

As Paul said, we should never choose to sin more just to receive more grace. Regulations and disciplines must be a part of a healthy lifestyle. It isn’t often that we see the proof of this statement than in the most recent activities on Wall Street and in the halls of Congress.

What are your fences? How do you regulate your life? What is your committment to spiritual discipline?

Author: Joey Reed

Joey is married to his best friend and they live in Kentucky. Joey serves Mayfield First United Methodist Church, the Purchase District, the Memphis Annual Conference, and the world is his parish.