You know, here at training we’ve been discussing safety, but maybe not in the way it could be expected. Safety is not a flippant reality, but God has been impressing upon my heart how even within the realms of responsibility, safety is not to be defined by me.
It has looked like this:
I’m surrounded by workers that are leaving to go to very unsafe places. I call them workers intentionally. The very mention of other words in association to them could compromise their safety. And while responsibility regarding their safety is still to be desired, they are laying down everything we define as safe in America in order to bring the gospel to very, very unsafe places. I was fully prepared to encourage them on in such pursuit until the question was posed to all of us. “But I’m not going to a safety risk!” came my fearful response. And through His guiding He has been revealing to my heart that no place in this world will ever be safe enough that I would not have to wrestle with this same concept.
It has forced me to reckon with safety. Who defines it? Can I allow it to master me? Can it cripple me to remain in only those places deemed “safe” and “secure”? What if there was a family member in an unsafe place? Why would crossing from “safety” to an unsafe place be deemed heroic? What about the billions of people around this world that live in unsafe places?
What makes me believe that I am entitled to safety anyway?
We have been working our way through Acts here at orientation. Acts is redefining my thoughts on safety. If God moved so overtly in His people’s lives to send them into very unsafe situations, why would I believe He could not be moving amongst His people in that way now? What if that’s His call on my life? What if Paul and Timothy and Barnabas and Luke and Mark and so many others had chosen to cling to safety? Would we even have the New Testament? Would we have even had a chance to believe? Would we have ever even heard?
How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? – Romans 10:14-15
What if we all just clung to our safety instead?
I must confess, this really messes with me. This really bucks my core. This really bothers my mind.
I am not entitled. I am not guaranteed. Have I become too spoiled in the absence of war and the abundance of perceived peace that I have turned a deaf ear to the reality of this world?
It was challenging this morning sitting in our small group and struggling to hear over the kid noise. They can be such a blessing and so, so obnoxious too. Their kids. They are both a delight and a chore. I choose to dance in their delight, but I would be a liar to say they are not work – a lot of work!
Ironically, the reality of kid distraction, allowed me to see different pieces of Scripture as I came and went between the adult small group and the kid needs.
Acts 16: Paul adds Timothy to the traveling party, the Holy Spirit forbids them to go to Asia (plan 1), the Spirit of Jesus forbids them to go to Bithynia (plan 2), and there at plan 3 they finally sit down to rest when there is an assembly of women. Ever had a hard day? This may have been the definition of a challenging day for Paul. Not even his attempt to rest for a minute seemed t be working out.
But then comes Lydia and suddenly she and her whole household are miraculously saved by the power of Jesus Christ. But who has time to celebrate, right? Cause while Paul and Luke and Timothy were sharing about the same Jesus that saved Lydia and her whole household along comes a demon-possessed slave girl. With the demon cast out, the disciples find themselves in the hands of some very angry people who were profiting off of the demon girl’s possession. There they are turned over to authorities and beaten and imprisoned. To which they give up, right? To which they cry out to God asking why He allowed their safety to be compromised when they were doing exactly what He asked them to do?
No, to which they are found praying and singing hymns to God with their feet still in stocks. And thereafter with a violent earthquake and their act of submitting to the very corrupt authority by refusing to escape, the jailer and his whole household come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
But it leaves me asking, Lord, why did they need to be beaten?
And I am challenged to ask myself, “Do you think the message of perseverance can be preached without persecution occurring?”
Why sure it can be preached! But it cannot be internalized.
I’d lie to say there’s no fear within me. We’re moving to an unstable place. Look up the news on Moz yourself. It’s not roses.
There are past hurts, swelling fears and generations of rebellion and pain that plague the country and can result in very unsafe circumstances that are occurring right now, not just in some dusty history book. But I’m pierced to the heart to think that fear of safety could paralyze us from bringing the Good News to the lost in Moz.
It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not just sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. – Matthew 9:12-13
How horrifying lest my selfish fears anchor me to safety over salvation! Join me in repenting. Lord, please let your compassion consume me and compel me to run to the broken world!
I’ve heard and even said “the safest place is in the center of God’s will”. But here in Acts 16 I see the opposite. The center of God’s will resulted in beating and imprisonment! But it also resulted in new churches and salvation.
Lord, help me to be willing to endure the sacrifice and persecution that Your Name would be exalted through more lips. And where I cling to safety and hide behind presumed responsibility (as if my mind is somehow higher than Yours- may it never be!) and cower, clinging to the offering You ask of me… Lord, help my unbelief!!! Renew my mind, Lord. Please, Lord, teach me how to walk in your ways, that my path may be straight and that I may walk with You in delight. Nothing will ever be more important than just being with You. Teach me to cling to that truth in every circumstance while I pray for peace in Moz.
~ In Jesus’s Name.