For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?— the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe. He made my feet like the feet of a deer, and set me secure on the heights.Psalm 18:31-33
“Mommy? Daddy? I had a bad dream.”
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I uttered those words as a child. My nightmares were always strange and fanciful — a cartoon octopus that started chasing me; a girl from a picture at my grandparent’s house that looked like a ghost (I now own that infamous picture); a strange angled monster who walked through our empty dark living room and caught a glimpse of me. Even, Count Chocula, Booberry, and Frankenberry visited me from time to time, to beat me up.
What an instant relief it was to crawl into bed with my parents and sleep with them for a while. Nothing could harm me there. I was safe.
This year my fears are anchored more in reality and yet they are strangely as intangible: A rapid-spreading virus that could seemingly hit anybody, anytime. People taking to the streets in search of justice–sometimes violently, and sometimes met with violence. A free-for-all between governments and scientists, locally and nationally. And normal, everyday people arguing bitterly over thin strips of fabric to be worn over their mouth and nose.
I’m in a new, wonderful church, but I’ve only met a couple dozen people in person. There’s a thousand things I’m ready to do, but it doesn’t seem safe.
And I’ve had quite a bit of medical drama over the past few weeks. A surgery on my thyroid postponed, a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosed. Numerous tests and prodecures, and an uncertainty of how severe that condition is (No worries–I’m guessing not very). But I don’t feel safe.
In this incredibly unsafe feeling time, who makes you safe? My wife and my doggie, they help me feel safe. Friends new and old, they help me feel safe. What about you?
The word “safe” is used over a hundred times in the Bible. And Psalm 18 sums up a very real truth: God desires to help us feel safe.
Now I don’t believe God sends or unsends viruses, or promises care-free days for the faithful. But I believe God is our comfort, and that the Holy Spirit welcomes us to lie down and rest in comfort, like a loving parent, welcoming a frightened child. Remember these words from another Psalm?
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me behind still waters. He restores my soul.Psalm 23:2-3a
This is how God wants us to begin the second half of 2020: With a sense of safety, of God’s protection guiding us, even through the darkest valley.
AND YET, here’s something peculiar. God DOES NOT want us to play it safe as the days and months pass. God wants us to take risks. I’m not talking about masking or social distancing. I’m talking about how we use our faith.
Jesus prayed to God continually, and that was a source of comfort for him. He may have felt safe, but he never played it safe. He took risks for the Kingdom every day. He served those who needed it most. He preached Good News to people who needed to hear it. He modeled a life based on loving the other, no matter the risks.
Do you know, after my third terrifying dream about Count Chocula and his crew, I took control of my vision and beat them all up! They never came back. Because my parents made it clear I was safe, I didn’t have to play it safe in my dream.
Christians, be the people of God in every way you can. Let the Lord gird us with strength, so we can pour love into a world that needs to feel safe. Do great things for the One who has done great things for us–things beyond our wildest dreams.
Hold tight to God…
and then don’t hold back.
Have a surreal/cereal week,
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