Why I Pray You Aren’t as Safe as You Want to Be

I was clinging to anything stationary but it was getting in my way.
My friend was teaching me how to roller skate but I was terrified that I would fall.
After several exasperating attempts to get me to balance and take off, he managed to pry my grip from around the railing and guide me onto the wooden rink.
Shortly thereafter, he let go and I careened off balance landing hard on my backside.
“Hey!” I protested. “You let me go. What was safe about that?”
“Nothing. There was nothing safe about it but you’re so wrapped up in your own safety that you’ll never do anything but limp along the rail. Then you’ll tell everyone that you hate skating but really, you won’t even know if you like skating because you won’t ever have tried.”
“But I fell,” I complained.
“Right. You fell. It hurt. You’ll live. The question is, are you going to get up off your butt and give this a real try or is this actually pointless?”
I learned to skate that day because I released my concerns about safety.
Every time I’m with a group of Christians sharing prayer requests, someone asks for prayers for safety. Often, it’s me.
It’s only natural. When people are not concerned about their own safety, we question their mental health. And of course, we want the people we love to be safe and so we ask God for their safety.
But modern man has elevated safety to a level that would bewilder our pioneer forefathers.
They were the people willing to risk their safety for freedom – this because they knew what it was like to live in bondage.
Having tasted restricted or complete loss of freedom, they recognized that safety belonged further down the priority list than liberty.
On so many levels, modern believers have made an idol of safety.
We design our lives for safety.
We place hedges around Biblical standards to be safe.
We place the safety of ourselves and our loved ones at the top of our prayer times, which would be fine if we devoted more time to our prayers but often, we only visit God long enough to share our headlines and safety gets top billing.
And so, many of us will live our entire lives, this side of the veil, limping along the rail of the narrow road.
We will never enjoy the freedom of following Jesus because we won’t ever have really tried it having paralyzed ourselves with our fear of falling.
There is an element of risk to the work I do in my day job. At times, it causes me stress and others are quick to say to me, “You need to get a new job. Find something safe.”
And I’m tempted.
But then, I think about the families I work with and I think – “Why not me? Why not risk my safety for the privilege of helping families in crisis. If a Christian shies away from this, what does that say to others about God’s priorities?”
I am not a brave woman but when I try to see things through God’s eyes, this is where I land.
If you read the gospels and the book of Acts, if you are any kind of student of church history, you’ll see a clear pattern that following Jesus is not a safe choice.
It has cost many people their lives.
It has cost others their comfort, treasured relationships, financial security, place in society, and physical health.
But I daresay that when we gather on the other side, these people will be the ones we gather round to hear the stories they tell of their adventures with Jesus.
These will be the ones who learned to enjoy God.
These will be the ones who inhabited the freedom of eternal life before their bodies tasted death.
So, my prayer for all of us, loved ones, is that God lets us fall on our backsides hard enough to get us to look around at the others skating free and decide that we want that more than we want the safety of clinging to the rail.
Only a Christian can truly throw caution to the Wind and know that it’s the right move.
How about you? Are you ready to renounce the idol of safety? Are you ready to explore some of the requests further down your prayer list?

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. You got me with this one, Sis.
    As I ponder, I get the feeling I’m having my fingers peeled off that wooden railing. Better release my final grasp so I can rejoice and enjoy my freedom with gusto.

  2. You call it idolatry…keeping me safe. Interesting. Imagine Paul the Apostle after receiving the Macedonian call to minister (Acts 16) going around to the shops first to buy his personal protective equipment (safety boots, glasses, glove, ear plugs, leather work apron). Nope, he simply started hoofing it in the thrill of God’s command, and knowing that the whispers of the Holy Spirit would set the only parameters that mattered.

  3. It’s often the good things that can be turned into idols. It’s natural to want to be safe. David put distance between himself and Saul’s spears. But American Christians seem to have elevated safety to such a priority that all else pales. That’s the danger zone.