The other day I stopped to grab a coffee where the barista and I chatted about our strange, not-so-normal world we now live in. “It has to eventually get better, right? I mean things have to be safe enough to return to normal at some point?” She lamented as she handed me my coffee.
But if I’m being brutally honest with my barista friend…and myself, I don’t think there’s a rule anywhere that says normal must return at some point or that safety is a guarantee—believe me, I’ve checked…multiple times.
The safety obsession
I’m pretty confident that every. single. one of us have prayed prayers of safety over our family and loved ones. Probably even daily.
I get it, I love safety and comfort probably more than the average person—I deal with anxiety so it’s kind of a “thing” for me.
However, in recent months I’ve found myself questioning if all of this “safe” hasn’t gotten a little out of hand. I’ve noticed that the further we’ve stepped our toes into the territory of the unsafe world, the harder we’re pushing back to make it even safer.
And the world, I’m afraid, plays on our fears. Sweet serenades of safety are dripping off of the lips of cunning politicians while simultaneously screaming at you from storefronts. In the end, they’re all trying to convince you:
“You’re safe here, we promise.”
Seeking safety at all costs
We as a human race just love safety.
There’s nothing like knowing the car we’re driving was recently voted the safest on the road or that the minute someone walks up to our front door we can see who it is. We adore the fact that our food has a seal on it, knowing it’s been double—no—triple washed.
Having ALL the insurance options.
Washing down every surface, including ourselves.
We long for the sweet guarantee that the plane will land, the procedure will go well, our loved one will pull in at exactly 6:15, the vaccine will protect us and the weather will always do exactly as it should.
Safe. No hitches, hiccups, or surprises.
#safegoals, am I right?
And why shouldn’t we long for everything to constantly be protected? Aren’t we owed that?
Isn’t that a guarantee…somewhere?
Maybe on a box from the manufacturer…
This world isn’t safe.
The reality is, we are never truly safe while we are here on this Earth. As much as we love our plans and protections, they are futile in a world that doesn’t play by the rules of our making.
If we’re being brutally honest with ourselves we realize that viruses don’t sit behind plexiglass or promise to stay within the confines of our six feet distance. Murderers and wicked intent don’t take a day off because there’s already enough injustice in the world. And as much as we want those safety measures to work every time, sometimes they fail.
In this unsafe world where we live, we have ample opportunity for all kinds of scary, unsafe possibilities over the span of one lifetime. And this trend, unfortunately, will continue until long after we are nothing but dust in the wind.
Playing God in an unsafe world
The world has become obsessed with “safe” during this year of pandemic living. In our pocket of the world, schools have been shut for months, businesses stay shuttered to the point of closing for good, and handshakes or human touch are highly discouraged.
I simply can’t escape the fact that there is a point where “safe seeking” becomes just another way to play God. Maybe if we try harder and restrict even more things, we’ll stay even safer. Safety measures are just that, a measure of safety. As good as they can be, we walk a fine line when we anchor our very lives into them.
When we become consumed with keeping safe to the point where we shut ourselves off from the world, it is no longer a precaution, it’s a god.
And when safety becomes god, fear is typically its enforcer. Obeying every what-if scenario leaves us chasing the next “fix” of safe. Take it from me, friend–someone who lived too long under it—fear is not a kind taskmaster.
It may seem as if I am taking a cavalier stance on a serious matter. I assure you, I am not. We should definitely use common sense and be concerned about our health and our loved ones. Absolutely.
And so you know, I am not coming from a place exempt from concern over this virus. My dad, who lives with us, has a severe lung disease and is on oxygen. My brother’s family just recently had Covid and my sister-in-law, who is a cancer survivor with damaged lungs, had it progress into Pneumonia. She is now on the mend, thank God, but the point being, I know the risks.
I am not saying to throw caution to the wind and ignore what is happening around us.
No, instead, I am calling each of us—myself, first and foremost—to live in the space that puts faith over fear.
Coming from someone who struggles daily with fear, I have to ask myself constantly if my internal compass is being directed by fear or faith. Is my checking and re-checking faith-driven or fear-driven? Is my reason for not going, not reaching out, and staying distant because I’m being careful and caring or because the what-if has gotten the best of me?
I appreciate safety measures but I have to keep them in the place they were intended to be: a measure of safety—not my saving grace.
Yes, we need to take care of our families, wash our hands, wear our seat belts, and look both ways before crossing the street. But at some point, we must ask ourselves when we’ve done our part and left the rest to God without living out our days in fear.
His promises for this unsafe world.
This question the barista asked has been reverberating in my mind these recent days and weeks: “I mean things have to be safe enough to return to normal at some point…”
For myself, I’ve concluded that living “safe enough” isn’t any way to live at all.
When Jesus was here amongst us He marched directly into some of the unsafest places He could. Sure, you could argue He was God, but then I will argue He was also a man.
We, who are believers in Jesus are not meant to tip-toe across the terrain of our lives no matter the state of the world. Awaiting safety without fully living out the purpose God has given is assuming we somehow have control over the time we have left.
While Jesus walked this earth He didn’t encourage His followers to hunker down and avoid the storms, no, often he sent them straight into them. As with everything Jesus did, he had a purpose for sending his disciples into a stormy sea. He wanted to show them where their trust lies. Was it in the fear of what could happen or was it in him?
As believers in a God that even death could not hold we have to stop acting as if it’s normal to live afraid. I’m not saying you will never struggle with fear—you will—but ask yourself: are you living according to the fear you feel?
What-ifs are plenty, sickness doesn’t take a day off and fear is sure to intimidate. However, our assurance is not in the safety measures we take.
Our trust is in Him.
Our trust is meant to be placed in the Lord even before safety is guaranteed. Not because He has guaranteed it.
Safety should never be a Christian’s ultimate goal and it certainly should not be the determining factor of whether or not we trust Jesus. In fact, as Christians, we may find ourselves doing some rather unsafe things in His name.
In the end, our times and lives are not in our own hands. Perhaps rather than waiting for it to be “safe enough” to live; we just choose to live…
And we trust the outcome to Him.
On a side note; Friend, please remember that God never expects perfection out of you. He is not a hard taskmaster that never expects you to struggle in times of fear. This is not my intent in speaking these truths but instead a reminder that we have a God big enough to handle our fear. So, if this time of pandemic living has you particularly frightened are unsure, remember whose you are and who holds this world. He’s big enough to handle any fear you carry.
While walking in this unsafe world, I encourage you to walk by the faith of the One that walked straight into the unsafest place He could—death on a cross—for you.
Living unafraid in this unsafe world simply means living out the truth that when you are in Jesus you’re already safe.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,