[bl]M[/bl]ost of us are able to avoid unsafe situations if we have the money and resources to place ourselves in particular environments. Towns further from the city. Suburban neighborhoods. Schools that are not as diverse. Homes that lock us in and keep trouble out.
But what if you don’t have the resources to live in these types of environments? What if you were born into a much different place? Or choices and circumstances out of your control have limited your options of where to live? What then? These people want to feel the same level of comfort and safety that we all do, but it’s just not an option for them.
I’m pouring through Scripture in search of promises and truth that will comfort my friends who are face to face with fear. Uninvited guests, unwanted guns. In. Their. Home. The place where you should feel most comfortable, protected. The place your children should feel safe. You should never have to wake in the middle of the night to demands for money and possessions. But the sad reality of this broken world is moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.
I’m reading the words of Jesus in Matthew and he’s urging his children to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth because in that place – God’s intended environment for his creation — there’s no rust or theft. But what he’s addressing here is our attachment to earthly possessions and our attention on the things that really matter, the things eternal.
And I want to flee this passage because I know that my friends don’t really care about their loss of a laptop and money. These are not people who store up on earth. These are people who have given away. Live with less. And trust for daily provision.
And then I pause and consider the other treasure that was stolen from them. The one they are mourning. Safety. The feeling of being safe. In control of your own environment. This is not the first incident that has challenged my friends to their core. Threatened the values they cling to. The very things we all hope for and expect in life.
So, I can’t help but ask: What kind of treasure is safety? Earthly or heavenly?
Surely God wants us to be safe, right? We witness all throughout scripture God’s chosen people as recipients of divine protection. God made them victorious in battle. He protected them from their enemies. And destroyed those who would destroy them. But we also find that God did not always deliver his people from dangerous situations. They faced death and destruction. They were led into unsafe places. And it’s these times that are more confusing. Difficult to process and understand.
I think of the Ugandan people born into a place where mosquitoes give you a deathly sickness. They are not safe. I think of the towns suddenly destroyed by tornadoes this year. God did not deliver them. I think of the countless women who suffer through the abuse of male dominate cultures. Where is safety for them? I think of the children who never asked to be victims of abuse and neglect. Where is their safe place?
We live in a world where uninvited guests continually threaten our safety. Cancer and HIV rob. Hurricanes break and enter. Racial conflict dwells. Fear walks through our doors. Anger invades our houses.
Safety is not available to all people. It’s a Western value and expectation because more than anyone else on this earth we have the knowledge and resources to limit our risk.
But we are surrounded by strangers and neighbors, family and friends and children of God who live in unsafe environments. And these are the places we ought to be going. We ought to be following fear and driving it out with perfect love. We ought to enter in behind anger and engage it with grace. We must go to the places where mosquitoes kill and provide resources for prevention and healing. And like so many people who are, we must come in after a tornado and comfort, clean and rebuild.
Life with God isn’t promised to be safe. His people ought not expect safety. We shouldn’t work so hard to separate ourselves from the brokenness of the world we live in. Rather we ought to engage the dangerous places with Truth and Light. We ought to be a safe place for those who don’t have one. And our homes ought to be shelter for those who need it.
This is the redemptive activity of environments of grace.
As I organize and create my home, my friends facing fear have packed up theirs and are looking for a place to live. And my heart can’t help but feel guilty. She wouldn’t want me to feel this way, but I do. Because more than anything, I wish they lived near so I could be her safe place. So my home could be her home.
#196 The red door
[lightbox href href=”http://environmentsofgrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Red-Door-e1307937697637.jpg”][/lightbox]
#197 that leads to my outdoor kitchen
[lightbox href href=”http://environmentsofgrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Summer-Kitchen-e1307937503802.jpg”][/lightbox]
#198 and the the sweet girl who carries the sweet corn
#199 after being shucked by hands learning to be helpful
[lightbox href href=”http://environmentsofgrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Summer-Corn-e1307937428883.jpg”][/lightbox]
[lightbox href href=”http://environmentsofgrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Sibling-Slumber-e1307937348715.jpg”][/lightbox]