Safe~do I feel safe with God…with others….how often don’t I project onto God my feelings about myself. All too often I feel safe with God only when I see myself as generous, caring, compassionate, giving…without the scars, fears or tears~perfect.
And this brings me to the crux of my wrestling…..Dan Allender says in The Wounded Heart, “suffering is equally necessary for us because it strips away the pretense that life is reasonable and good, a pretense that keeps us looking in all the wrong places for the satisfaction of our souls.”….my counselor several years ago told me that my greatest fear was pain…how right he was.
The fear of pain is still my Achilles heal, the area I struggle with, the very thing I try desperately to avoid…if I can just live life perfect enough, if I do all the right things then I won’t experience pain, I will be safe….at least my definition of safe!!
There was a book that came out several years ago called, “Your God is too Safe”, I confess that I never read it although my husband did. In fact I didn’t want to read it because in my mind it said “Your God is not safe”. What??? As a victim of abuse if I couldn’t be safe with God then where did that leave me….but God gently brings us to the end of ourselves, often to the very place we try to avoid in order to bring His healing & truth.
The other morning a dear friend called me and we talked about God and being safe. She suggested I use another word for safe such as secure. I can get that. Later that morning something quite unusual happened as my husband and I went for a walk. We always go to our local park to walk the trails but this particular morning we took another route to get there. We took a shortcut and walked alongside the railway. While walking we spotted this sign, right beside us, you couldn’t miss it.
My husband started laughing…I groaned….okay God what are you saying here? I knew this wasn’t a coincidence. This rusty old sign today would not be politically correct, hence why it was thrown in the garbage long ago. And notice in the photo that this sign is sitting amongst a pile of garbage.
Safety as I defined it was to never feel pain, to never suffer, to never get hurt, to never have difficulty. I have lived so much of my life trying to be safe.
Webster’s defines safe as:
1: free from harm or risk
2 a: secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss b: successful at getting to a base in baseball without being put out
3: affording safety or security from danger, risk, or difficulty
4obsolete of mental or moral faculties
5 a: not threatening danger b: unlikely to produce controversy or contradiction
6 a: not likely to take risks
Hmm, free from risk, not generate controversy…. I equated safe as predictable. I brought God down to my level. How much clearer could it be? I lived so much of my Christian walk like that sign…. striving; seeking to make my world safe….this is how I tried to live, making my world safe because I couldn’t trust God to look after me…..the root of it all is control!! Trying to control my world and trying to control God. I tried to set the standard for what safe looks like when really it is God who sets the standard. The Scriptures say that I am made in God’s image but all too often I make God in my image.
And I realized that all the safety nets that I’ve put in place sometimes have holes, my safeguards are not the ultimate answer.
And just like that sign thrown into the garbage heap I too must throw my idols away, my striving, my control.
When I fail to cease my striving, to control, when I fail to look at the One who created me I am in danger of idolatry, of finding my sole (and soul) meaning in the works of my hands. Trying to make God in my image, predictable!!
Yes as responsible people we do our best to avert harm-why tempt fate? As responsible people we do our best to protect ourselves as best we can, wear our seat belts, install security alarms etc. But the truth is that our real security must be in Jesus. Only in Him can we live in true security.
What does naked trust look like?? What does it look like to give up control? And what does it look like to feel secure as God’s child. I think I am starting to get it.
I no longer need to cower as a shame-filled, abused woman; tremulously afraid that I don’t deserve God’s blessings rather I can reclaim my wholeness and right to feel secure as God’s child. Jesus has given us as human beings a rock to stand on. This security in our personhood is one of the gifts of the cross.
I haven’t worked out the whole area of God’s protection yet, but I think I am getting it. And for the first time in my life am able to look at this area.
And I think I get what Mark Buchanan is trying to say in his book, Your God is too Safe, and maybe it’s finally time to dust it off and read it.