“Mama?” Jacob whispers, “Can you come help?”
I was awakened at 4am by a coughing 4 year old boy who had accidentally wet his bed. I’m aware of his little presence at my bedside before my groggy consciousness can put my surroundings in their proper place. Blurry-eyed, he and I shuffle down the hallway together and back to his room for fresh pajamas, a clean blanket and medicine for his cough. He’s all fixed up for another several hours of sleep. I get sweet kisses and one last hug. With Jacob back in his bed, I head back down the hall towards mine. I settle back in to rest, but can’t find it. My thoughts start bouncing off the sides of my brain, colliding and reverberating until finally, they begin resonating. You see, I tend to hear the Lord best in the dark. Just as you can see the light most starkly against a dark sin-stained backdrop, you can hear the light most clearly against the pitch black backdrop of the dead of night. And at 4am on this Tuesday, February 17th, the darkness of the world is blaring full blast.
As I lie in bed looking for sleep, I am haunted by the knowledge that on the other side of the world 21 families feel the heavy weight of this broken world to the point that it crushes the breath from their lungs. They ache, they long, they mourn, and in my nice, comfortable bed with all my family tucked in tight, every one of us safe and sound, I somehow feel less safe than I ever have before. But it’s not the palpable hate of the executioners or their assurance that there is more to come that has pulled the safety net out from under my feet – oh no, we must never give them that right. To the contrary, it is Christ’s love that beckons me into the deep, roaring waters of the dangerous. Against every instinct of mine to stay in the shallow area of belief where it seems safe, he calls me out further and further. His voice is so clear amidst the chaos. He beckons, don’t stay where it’s safe.
You’re not safe where it’s safe.
Our idolatry of safety is putting us in harm’s way.
In a world where the darkness presses in tight, who among us doesn’t long to be safe? But we mustn’t make the mistake of mistaking safety for security. Safety is an illusion that doesn’t exist. We claim to have the right to feel safe in our homes, in our schools, on our streets. We buy hand guns (I’m in Texas, y’all), install security systems, practice lock-down drills and move to the best neighborhood we can afford in the hopes that those provisions will keep us from harm. But by guarding ourselves with all these safety measures, we’re building a wall we can’t see beyond. We’re contributing to the illusion that safety exists. We hide our eyes from evil, but that does nothing to hinder it’s existence. Is it possible that as a people, we have confused our longings? Maybe we long for more than safety – more than just a temporary shield from the flesh and blood dangers of this world. Maybe our real longing is for security – an eternal protection against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12).
We must not confuse the two. Playing it safe will never bring us security. Security is only found beneath the banner of His perfect love and there is no safe way to get there: The security of His perfect love can only be accessed through the cross. The cross – the antithesis of safety. No matter how we try to sanitize it and normalize it and intellectualize it, the cross refuses to clean itself up. It is not a shiny, gold charm worn on a dainty chain or a silver James Avery ring. It is rough and wooden and soaked in the atoning blood of Christ. Those who trust in the cross must not dare try to make it more palatable than it actually is. There is no security in a cleaned up cross and if safety is what you’re seeking you won’t find it there.
Don’t give up your security in Christ for safety in this world.
There was no illusion of safety for those 21 men whose lives were taken on Sunday, but rest assured that at this moment, they stand eternally secure because He who hung on the cross refused to play it safe. In the wake of their deaths, the people of the cross look earnestly towards the cross. Tomorrow, on the first day of Lent, the people of the cross will stare hard, refuse to look away, and intently dial in on the road that led to Calvary. We remember the thorns, look close at the nails, examine the spear that pierced His flesh. We give not just a passing glance, an occasional thought, or an obligatory devotional on our way out the door, but a prolonged concentration on the necessity of the cross in bringing resurrection.
I don’t know where your heart is towards Christ this season of Lent. But maybe you’re a lot like me. My faith wavers, my affections ebb and my walk sometimes feels so downright feeble and clumsy. I struggle and I yearn and I long for the comfort of safety, too. But this Lent season, I’m going for broke. For 46 days, I’m setting my eyes intently on the cross. I’m trusting that He’ll meet me there in all my imperfections and waverings and misgivings. Encouraged by the lives of those 21 who loved Him, even to death, I’m leaving the shallow safety of the shore. What might He do in us these next 46 days if you joined me here?
I’m linked up today over at #TellHisStory. Go check out more of God’s stories there!