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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Is it Safe?

So, in preparation for traveling to the Holy Land on Pilgrimage, I entertain a lot of questions from family, friends and parishioners.  Where exactly will you be going? How long will you be there?  What do you do on a pilgrimage?  Have you been there before?  Who is going with you?  There are other questions too, but the main one that I get asked the most often is this one: "Is it safe?" or other forms of the question like "Will you be safe?"  "Aren't you afraid?"  "Is it dangerous?"

I'd love to just say to you that I laugh in the face of fear and that the thoughts of violence, protests, tear gas, rubber bullets or stones being thrown in some minor skirmish, has never even crossed my mind, but that would be a lie.  Sure, I've thought about it.  But I have made peace with the fact that there is something really wrong with the question.  I'm just not sure I know what safety is any more and I'm not at all sure that it is that important.  I must have written in a previous blog somewhere that I've never read or seen any evidence that Jesus was proclaiming that following Him was safe.  Furthermore, I've re-assessed what the concept of safety and protection versus freely living means for me personally.   You may remember that over three years ago I had surgery for uterine cancer.  A surgery that was to make me better, prolong my life and remove the imminent danger going on in my body.  All of that happened and the cancer was eradicated without extreme measures or further treatments of chemotherapy.  However, in the process of making me "better" or "safe" from further illness or maybe death, I contracted a staph infection that very well could have killed me.  As a result of that experience, I think every day after that seemed different, every experience I choose or risk that I take has a different color.  I'm not as willing to settle or be in a mode of waiting until "someday" and I'm also not so inclined to think that I can preserve myself for some future time.  I have no idea what shape my life will take.  I trust my life to only one safe haven...

Psalm 91 The Message (MSG)

1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

So, is it safe to travel to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, New York City?  I have no idea.  
Will I be safe no matter what?  You betcha!
Are there 1001 reasons for me to go?  Absolutely.

1 comment:

  1. I gave up standing in my own way, for Lent one year. For me this meant no longer waiting for my weight to be what I wanted, or other arbitrary mile markers to be accomplished before I would take a step. I also tried to be more open to God's gentle nudging. I came to recognize that often I was waiting on God's nudging.It is difficult for me to seemingly be doing nothing but waiting.Safe is sometimes seen as conforming. I used to want to conform, now I want to be God's instrument even more. I have a feeling some would say that is not safe.If we are following this radical Savior, how can any of us be safe? Perhaps you should ask all those folks if they are safe?