Tuesday, August 28, 2012

safety and fear and God

recently, a friend and i were talking about safety.  she told me how, on her first night in her new house, she was so nervous about robbers.  she checked and rechecked her doors and windows - all locked.  she prayed, thinking of the verse 'i will both lay me down and sleep in peace, for thou alone, o Lord, makest me to dwell in safety.' (psalm 4:8, probably slightly misquoted, it's been a while ;) and she slept like a baby.

going out in the morning, she found her set of keys in the lock of the door.  all her locking and double-checking had been for nothing ... if anyone had wanted to come in, they wouldn't have had the slightest difficulty, for her keys were right there for the taking! 

such a great picture of how God alone keeps us safe.  we tend to trust in keys and locks (maybe because we can see them?), but the psalmist was right.  our safety doesn't rest in anything or anyone but God.

when i went to zambia, some people were terrified for me.  i was 21, traveling alone, to a place where i didn't know a soul, and i had committed to being there for a year.  there were all sorts of unknowns, creepy crawlies, and of course, my biggest fear: snakes. 

i don't blame them for being scared.  i had been, too - until God reminded me that He wanted me to go, so if i went, i could leave the worrying up to Him.  did i really mean it when i sang 'i surrender all'?  if so, i had to surrender all - that meant my fears too.

i was reminded of His care last week.  a friend of mine shared an article on fb that was written by a man traveling in syria (i'm sorry for my bad memory - i don't recall if he was a journalist, a soldier, an aid worker, or what).  he laughed at the idea of choosing a safe life over an adventurous life.  essentially, he was saying that choosing safety in order to preserve your life isn't really living - it's just hiding.

i couldn't agree more.

and i read a story yesterday that really brought this idea back to mind - i guess God is trying to make sure i really believe Him!  - in jeremiah 42.  the people asked jeremiah the prophet to find out from God if they should run to egypt or sit tight where they were.  egypt seemed really safe - strong and able to defend itself against the babylonians who had just decimated israel.  but God said if they stayed, He would protect them, be with them, and have mercy on them; and they should not fear the king of the babylonians.  if they left, though, they would meet exactly what they were fleeing from - the sword, famine, and pestilence. 

fear won, though, and they scorned God's protective presence and fled to egypt.

agh.  i think this story really frustrates me because i see myself in them.  i see myself being afraid to trust God, afraid that He really means what He says. 

no.  i refuse to live a life of hiding.  i don't want to spend my life running scared, trying to create safety by manipulating my circumstances. 

i trust in God, and He alone keeps me safe.  in zambia, in canada, then, and now, and always ... He is with me, to save me and deliver me. 

bring on the adventurous life; hiding is for sissies!


  1. Janelle, your bravery has paid off because you have so many wonderful memories from Zambia! Being able to share them is even better; when I read your work on Figment, I felt like I was there with you :)

    Oh man, I would have been afraid of snakes too! Once in a while I'll find one in my front yard, and I always wonder if it's poisonous or not, haha.

    I think it's important to be safe, use those locks and keys and all that, but not to let fear stop you from doing something you want to do :)

    1. agreed! i lock up and buckle up and all those good things ... but i feel that much safer when i realize i'm not depending on a few inches of metal - because i've got very strong Arms around me. :)