“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Compelled to cross boundaries, some like David with his slingshot ready to face a giant, and others like Jonah looking to run, God still taps on the shoulders of those He calls to do extraordinary things, go places they would not go otherwise, and do things beyond their capabilities. It is never easy.
The struggle showed in the quiver of a cheek, tremor of lips, and a tear paving a wet path down her cheek. The country she was heading to was neither stable nor safe. Its context and culture perplexed and unnerved her, yet inside an undeniable conviction compelled. This was where God wanted her.
Long hair veiled her bowed head. Her chin tucked, she allowed the torrent of fear washing over her to be spoken. For the first time she revealed raw fear in an irretrievable confession of doubt.
“Should I go? Is it crazy?”
She raised her head and met the eyes of first my husband and then mine. Unspoken questions without answers filled the space between where we sat.
In the end, she stepped out with determined faith.
I remember listening to this young lady express her fears about serving Christ on foreign soil. She spoke of loved ones who did their best to deter her from going. They found her decision unreasonable and unnecessary. The country’s uneasy political climate worried them. It wasn’t a smart financial move. But God called and she went.
We often say in Christian circles that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. I wonder if Peter felt that when he sat in a damp prison singing praises, or Paul when stoned and left for dead? Did John the Baptist feel the same way before the blade touched his neck, or how about those early Christians facing lions in the arena?
Perhaps safe and good don’t have to look alike.
Another war has begun in Europe. Those distant rumbles of guns and tanks unnerve us, they shake us like the unsteady footage we see on our screens, but for those who have crossed borders it is far different. They live it. Brothers and sisters on that map are gripped with the reality of war on their doorstep, of atrocities and death.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13NIV
These are days of testing for my friend and many others on foreign soil. This is a time when human fear and strength fail. Brothers and sisters, national churches and global workers face unsettling possibilities. Some are right in the midst of unspeakable horror.
True safety is in a Savior whose unshakable eternal policy carries us in the arms of Jesus through this perilous life and securely into the next. Whether by war, pestilence or even martyrdom, safety is in a Person, rather than a location. This is the gospel good news we carry in each place God leads us.
Across the globe, many who have taken Jesus’ words into the uttermost parts of the world and proclaim the gospel are paying a high cost.
Our own borders might not be lines on a map. Condition clauses, “it’s too hard,” “too far,” and “too costly” wrap around us like high walls of safety. But the truth is, His presence shines in the dark cave, lions den, fiery furnace and in the belly of a really big fish. He is with His children even to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Complete surrender is unconfined and undefinable. It opens clenched fists to accept Christ’s call anywhere, any time or any place. It’s a complete paradigm shift from what I can to what He is able.
Surrender recognizes, like C.S. Lewis’ lion Aslan, “‘he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’”
“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Acts 5:41 NKJV