redefining safety

A moment’s conversation, leading to splitting laughter, leading to friendship.

A passing joke, leading to a picture message of a middle-aged foreign man wearing a poorly-fitting bicycle helmet and a rather mirthful smile.

This was all just a split second of time. But I remember it better than most seconds because after this picture was sent, laughed over, joked about and partially forgotten, a statement was made that made me sit back and my soul gasped a little bit.

One had applauded, in passing, how safety-conscious he was. The other had joked, in passing, how “safety is attractive”.

At the time, it was silly banter. But this friend, who is the best blend of goofy and wonderful, sent me a screenshot of our commenting-conversation months afterwards. She added underneath the screenshot a short but deeply insightful phrase:

“I keep this as a reminder of how attractive safety can be.”

Isn’t it? Isn’t it very much so?

Whether I am conscious of it or not, a fearful and timid part of my heart leans toward security, safety and assurance that nothing will go wrong. I make safe choices, choose safe things, and avoid certain risks every day because I am more comfortable in the predictable things I have “figured out” than in the unknown possibilities. Comfort over uncertainty. Ease over a worthy fight.

I’m by no means vilifying seat belts and non-slip bath mats, or encouraging stupidity or carelessness. I’m saying that I tend to seriously misunderstand true safety. I twist up the idea of what it really means to be secure, and the false version I catch myself wanting so bad wages war against another one of my desires… the one for adventure, the one to step out in faith and experience the thrill of being caught in His hands each time.

My false idea of safety goes something like this:

“Please, please, please let me get everything I want and nothing hurt me and no problems arise and life can be easy and I don’t have to deal with hard things.”

This is lazy. This is entitled. This is a false view of what it means to live, to be sanctified, to trust Jesus.

safe·ty  (sāf′tē) n.  – The condition of being safe; freedom from danger, risk, or injury.

Some may say that we are very much not safe. Not safe at all.
This broken world, with it’s natural disasters and freak accidents. These broken people around us, with their fears and insecurities and personal demons. This broken body, subject to breaking and disease and decay. This broken self, with my own failures and inconsistencies and sin.
We are far from the “safe” here. We are not free from these earthly dangers, when the likelihood of a car accident cutting everything short is higher than we want to remember. Risk cannot be eliminated here, when stocks and surprises and our inability to know the future cuts our understanding at the knees. Injury is going to come to us: to our bodies, to our hearts. Someone will hurt you, you will shed tears. I talked about this a bit further here.

In a sense, you are very, very fragile, and very, very unsafe.

Before you think I am a walking contradiction, I need to ask: What do we ultimately need to be safe from?

Really, it is not failure, frustration or fear. Not looking silly, sounding foolish, or being wrong. Not even disease, disaster, or death.

That’s not what we need to be safe from. It would be nice, wouldn’t it? To never face rejection or failure. But what spineless and malformed individuals we would be, if our sanctification was devoid of anything uncomfortable?

No. What we need safety from is justice. We have made ourselves enemies of Someone who has every right and every ability to destroy us for our rebellion, for our sin.

God intends to put the world right again; but if we are the problem, if we are what is broken, then fixing the world would have meant not having us in it. Unless… unless he went to the cross. Unless he took his own perfection and righteousness and gave it to us, so we could be allowed to be part of the healed world.

He loved us enough to give up Himself to keep us.

The permanent dangers have all been eradicated. We are only left with pitiful, temporary and passing dangers to face, and we do not face those alone.

In Christ…

  • We are safe from being abandoned, by the One we cannot live without.
  • We are safe from being forgotten by the only One whose attention matters.
  • We are safe from being able to ruin our lives. Consequences may be hard, but hope is not lost.
  • We are safe from needing to try and prove ourselves, from having to carry the burden of ensuring our acceptance on our own. He has accepted us based on His merit, not ours, and we are free.
  • We are safe from ever needing to fear that we are not loved.
  • We are safe from danger to our soul; the eternal danger, the one that does not pass away with time.

We are free from all of those, because ultimately, if we have Jesus, we have all we need. We can lose it all; esteem, money, success, health, relationships… and not be afraid. We can even come before a holy God, one who is perfect in all he does and who has every right to smite us, and trust that His goodness to us, His grace towards us is enough. That what He did on the cross was enough.

“He’s not safe, but he’s good.” – C.S. Lewis

I’m practicing. I’m rerouting my brain to know more and more deeply that my actual safety does not lie in the hope that I will never face difficulties. Real trust doesn’t mean we expect that “nothing will go wrong”, but instead, “everything will be okay”. It’s knowing that a God who could ask hard things of me, who could let painful things enter my life, who could let stuff seemingly go very wrong, is also very, very good.

So maybe I can take risks, be uncomfortable, face potential ridicule or rejection, be vulnerable & use my money and time increasingly generously. Maybe, however attractive being “safe” and “conservative” may be, however easy it would be to let possibilities slip away and stay in my current bubble, I don’t need to. I can stop thinking that I need to stay there.

Because whether I play it safe or take great risks, whether I stay comfortable and protect myself or not, things will go wrong. This is promised. But in the end, one way, somehow, because of Jesus… it will all be okay. It will all be set to rights. And as a friend of mine likes to say.. It will all be as it should be.


real trust

real trust


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