Author | Steve
These last two months God has opened my eyes to an idol I have erected over the course of my life: safety. At first blush, it seems that the desire to be safe is a good one – even a God-given one. But How I have gone about acquiring that safety has elevated all kinds of things into the position that only Jesus rightfully holds.
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” ~ Psalm 4:8
I’m a smart guy. I know how to take care of myself…and my family. I did well in school. My good decisions seemed to outweigh my bad decisions, and because of God’s forgiveness and restoration for all those bad decisions my life was pretty good.
But it wasn’t. I could feel it first. Then, I knew it. I knew it in my mind and in my gut. I was trusting more in my ability to create safety and its inherent peace and hope than in God’s promise to be my safe place. All my work and best laid plans could not make me safe from pain, from hurt and injury, or from needing Jesus as much as the next person. Not only was I trapped by my own faulty thinking, but I lived in a system that supported the idea that church-workers, while sinful and in need of a Savior, didn’t really need Jesus as badly as everybody else (or at least they should never admit it!).
My efforts led to anxiety, crushing burdens, false humility – anything but safety, peace and hope.
At the very same time, God kept pursuing me. He pursued me in worship. He pursued me through friends and strangers. He pursued me in His word. He pursued me through people’s Facebook posts. He pursued me through my wife and my kids. He never gave up on me, even as I was erecting a false god of safety for myself.
It’s interesting that the day He broke into the shabby temple of my creating, peace and joy began to show up immediately. I hadn’t realized how much I was trusting in my plans, my bank account, my hard work and provision for my safety until Jesus gave me a picture of life without all these things. At first, the picture was frightening! But then, there was Jesus in the middle of it with the peace and the hope and the joy I could never manufacture!
Jesus graciously invited me to lay down these things for a while and wait on Him – to trust Him more than my hard work, more than the safety of my nice house, more than my own plans for the future. And it has been absolutely freeing!
Brennan Manning writes in his classic The Ragamuffin Gospel, “Each of us pays a heavy price for our fear of falling flat on our faces. It assures us the progressive narrowing of our personalities and prevents exploration and experimentation.” And I would add: it undermines faith in our faithful God.
Just this past week, we were visiting with some friends in Ft. Worth, and we were talking about the posture of worship in the scriptures of falling prostrate before the Lord. I had always assumed that this was a fairly liturgical posture (which it probably is in the scriptures), but I wonder if it doesn’t have a broader sense of trusting the saving arm of our Father so much that we are willing to fall flat on our faces in the very way we live and love? To fail in the world’s eyes while trusting Him?
A little later in The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning notes, “…what Parker Palmer calls ‘functional atheism’ – the belief that nothing is happening unless we are making it happen. Though our Christian language pays lip service to God, our way of functioning assumes that God is dead or in a coma. Being seized by the power of a great affection does not seem to relate to the real world in which we live. Does it not require a fair measure of lunacy to listen to the loony tunes of the ragamuffin gospel? Yes it does!”
A couple weeks ago, the day after we closed on our house and moved into our Suburban and cargo trailer that we affectionately call “the garage,” we found ourselves at God’s beautiful and delicious gift of Whataburger. As we dined on this manna from heaven my fourteen-year-old son, Austin, said, “It’s o.k. to lose your mind if it’s replaced by the mind of Jesus.” We were as unsafe as we had ever been, and we were laughing and full of God’s good gifts!
P.S. – In my new found freedom from fear and my efforts to produce a safe life I share with you one of our theme songs for our trust adventure from Lecrae: Say I Won’t. Enjoy!