Please Lord, bring them home safely.
Lord, watch over us and keep us safe.
And please, hold them safely in your hands.
I have been wrestling with God. I would like to live safe. It appears I’ve become a big chicken. Cowed by fear and worry.
But all I can hear ringing in my ears this summer is: YOU MUST STOP LIVING YOUR LIFE WITH ‘SAFE’ AS THE TOP PRIORITY!
Early in the fall of 2015, I gave up “control.” (Hahahaha. I know. I tried – I’m still trying.) So in the place of my trying to know everything and charting a one, five and ten year plan, I took on fear. I prioritized SAFE. Maybe I wouldn’t know what’s next, but dad-gum-it, we’ll all stay safe!
If I had really given up control, fear would have gone right along with it. Safe wouldn’t have become the priority. Faith would have.
As I heard myself reciting yet another prayer centered around safekeeping this summer, I felt it’s wrongness like a slap across my face. One that kept stinging as I tripped through these weeks that have followed.
While stewing on what to do about safe, I began reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to the kids. Animatedly. We were all utterly rapt. We started the 4th of July week on a long road trip. I read for hours. We were waiting for Aslan to appear. Wondering what would become of the wayward Edmund. And then came these words:
Aslan is a Lion – the Lion, the great Lion.
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion…”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
I could practically hear Beaver’s voice in my head all week. ‘Course he isn’t SAFE! Judging safe with a great deal of contempt.
A week later, sitting in church, one of our pastors shared a powerful message about the changing world in which we live (the rapidity of change partly to blame for my craving safety). He shared,
The enemy (the devil) leads us to fear things that we think we might be able to control…
Do not waste your fear on idols that can be destroyed by fire.
And then came the books. I wrote last week about how I’m being more intentional about cooking and reading and writing. I’d let those things I love slip away. As a result, I’m gulping down books this month like a woman stranded in the desert gulps water.
As I was reading Made Like Martha, I learned about a story in 2 Chronicles 20 I wasn’t familiar with before. A man named Jehoshaphat was afraid because of a battle he had to lead his people into. Instead of trembling or running the other way in search of safety, he sought help from the Lord. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Judah and the Lord said, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
God doesn’t tell them not to go into battle. Or that He’ll hide them from the warriors. He just takes ownership of the battle. So the people “rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness.” Ah, a wilderness full of battle ready warriors. Sounds relaxing and safe…
The very next day, while reading Canoeing in the Mountains, this word pounded the message deeper still:
This moment requires those of us in positions of authority (and even most of us who are not) to embrace an adventure-or-die mindset, and find the courage and develop the capacity for a new day. We are headed into uncharted territory…
The author goes on to describe the adventure of Lewis and Clark and how their Corps of Discovery’s journey is much like the leader of today. While they thought the Missouri River would lead them to the Pacific Ocean (and in fact, that was their Presidential Commission), instead it deposited them at the Rocky Mountains. They thought the hardest part was behind them, but:
Everything they had accomplished was only a prelude to what was in front of them.
Chapter 2, Adventure or Die, from Canoeing in the Mountains.
Ha! What? You have to laugh to keep from crying.
All those hard years. Long nights. Dashed hopes. Heartbreak. They all conclude in a happily ever after, right? A present tied up with a big red bow? Safety?
Everything before was just a prelude.
Everything up until now: A prelude.
Now there’s no more map. And the “adventure,” well, it just gets harder. The one word no one will use to describe what’s ahead? SAFE.
The choice? Turn back. Stay safe. Fail to accomplish the mission because fear shut you down and turned you around.
Or. Do the harder thing. Stop praying for safety. Pray for courage. Discernment. Strength. And press onward. Off the map. Adventure into the land where there’s no safe but there’s such good.
So I’m blowing up safe. Well, maybe blowing up is more than I’m ready for today. But it’s not long for this life that needs to move off the map…