A friend almost shouted in her frustration, “I’m being ‘protected’ out of existence!  Someone wants to count the bacteria in my shower; someone else is deciding I must have a tornado shelter. Yesterday a store greeter said, ‘You have a safe day now!’  I thought, ‘What if I want to have a significantly productive day, and might need to take some risks?’ ‘Safety first’ won’t allow me to actually face some uncertainty!”

I understand her frustration.  Ours is a confused culture; obsessed with safety on one hand, and ‘no limits’ on the other.   The rush to eliminate all risk and discomfort has terribly impeded our God-given incentive to explore and push constructively beyond our known boundaries. Human beings, created in the image of God, are designed to pursue productive risk.  We legitimately find a part of our significance in progress and productivity.

We are surrounded daily with non-productive, destructive risk-taking:

  • promiscuous sex
  • drug use
  • escalating sports, volcano-boarding, train-surfing and cliff-diving

These activities are a backlash against the unreasonable restrictions of over-protection; a bored, foolish, destructive effort to fulfill our God-given, bold, daring design.  Hours spent voyeuristically watching ‘reality’  and violent action shows is a benumbed, futile attempt to satisfy the built-in need to excel in the spiritual war against evil.

For Christians, the conflict between significance and safety intensifies because we’ve heard the truth that life lived with Jesus will end in ultimate safety and fulfillment.  But we confuse this with something that ‘should’ happen right here and now.  When difficult life experiences show that to be false, we half-heartedly hope that Jesus–appearing like a celestial Superman–will come through for us.  After all, we’ve (erroneously) heard that God exists to ensure our safety, convenience and comfort, so surely He’ll ‘show up’ in time to rescue us from harm.

But many good people who make heroic choices don’t live to tell their own story.  Observing that reality, we shrink back anxiously from the productive risk that furthers the Kingdom of God.

“It’s always safest in the center of God’s will,” says holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom.  Her sister, Betsie, encouraged her with these words of hope as they suffered starvation and constant threat of death in Auschwitz.  For these women, enduring punishment for hiding Jews from Hitler, the promise of safety in God’s will had nothing to do with safeness, convenience and comfort. Rather, it meant living with integrity; daily making God’s character visible, no matter what the circumstances. Corrie lived to tell the story; Betsie did not.

If we believe ‘safety in the center of God’s will’ means God wants us to live comfortably in the place we most feel like being, we’ll constantly pursue easier: the path of least resistance.   But we must ask, where would Christianity be if the disciples had pursued safety rather than significant, constructive risk?  What will the Church be in the next generation if safety and comfort becomes the ultimate goal of modern Christianity?

God is ultimate significance.   We find our eternal safety in the intimacy and joy of relationship with Him; collaborating with Him; concluding that it’s best to be wherever God wants us to be, even far beyond our personal comfort or safety zone.  He loves us, and wants us to trust Him for provision and strength, as we risk the loss of safe, comfortable convenience to expand His Kingdom.

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Dr. Dixie Yoder

PO Box 466

Weatherford, OK 73096