I’ve recently grappled with the definition of safety: mine vs God’s. And it makes me really uneasy when I consider how dangerous real safety might be. I mean, I know the story of what happened to Jesus and he’s the one I’m claiming to follow. Where exactly are we going, God?
Being free from fear and harm, and feeling certain and satisfied that this condition will continue – that’s how I’d define safety. And I think God might define it that way too in the infinite, ultimate, cosmic sense. The problem is more how our definitions of “harm” differ.
Sometimes, and I’m just owning it outright, being covered for infinity doesn’t particularly help me in the daily grind. I realize my perspective is the one suffering. Look up sometimes?
My family was weeding together in the garden one evening. Our eight-year-old leaned over to inspect a shriveled spinach plant and the nearby ant hill (probably the cause for the shriveled plant) when he let out a shriek. A few ants had crawled up his leg and started biting. My husband swiftly picked him up, carried him to safety, and removed the ants but the residual trauma and sting of the bites did more than linger.
Our son was in a near-panic believing ants were biting him when they weren’t. And even though we moved him to an ant-free portion of the garden, he remained jumpy.
“I don’t feel safe here, I feel upset!” he wailed, for himself and all mankind.
I hid my smile lest I appeared callous. I’ve been bit by the ants, too, and it was annoying, but not long-lasting and certainly not fatal. From my perspective, it was clear the ants posed no true danger. And what was more, help and comfort were literally an arm’s length away. How could he fail to see this?
Sure, it’s always easy to see clearly when panic isn’t coursing through my own veins. But how to relay this to someone who’s feeling the sting? And how to ingest this truth as a vaccination to my own fears?
The son was trying to get out of his job weeding. His father didn’t let him quit. Little sister emptied her weed bucket in the field. When she returned big brother asked her,
“Will you be next to me, again? I feel better when you’re next to me.” I hid another smile. How often does God choose to use a sister or brother as an agent of comfort and to inspire courage?
Not alone. Not in ultimate danger, but not unscathed. Able to petition for a sister or brother to stay near. Able to converse honestly with the father who stays at our side. But commanded to stay the course. Our purpose remains the same.
Is it worth it, this dangerous safety?
A bazillion years ago, I was a children’s leader for Bible Study Fellowship (an international and inter-denominational bible study). Cheri was then the children leaders’ supervisor. I just loved Cheri. Once, I remarked at the distance she commuted regularly to volunteer, at great cost to herself, and her response to me was life-changing. She said, “There’s no excuse we can give God to tell Him He’s not worth it; and anyway, the blessings are all ours.” She wasn’t just saying crap – the smile in her eyes spoke for itself.
To view my duties as a joyful privilege – oh God, how far I’ve strayed. I believe, help my unbelief!
Yes, it is all worth it. He promises it is. I started reading Restless by Jennie Allen and this quote from chapter four stuck out to me tonight, “Jesus promised to give us himself in a very useful form – a form that would invade us and pour through us, comfort and equip us, and remind us that we are headed to a home better than the one we will risk for him now.”
Does the word RISK pop off the page to you, too?
Yes, I know what happened to Jesus but his story didn’t end with suffering – it ended with victory. I need to remember the end of His story so I can run in the wake of His victory.
Keep looking up, dearly loved friend. It’s worth it.