Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Playing it Safe

My 16-year-old son came home yesterday saying this was going to be the year of getting out of his comfort zone. "I've been praying for more confidence," he said, "I think this is how I get it."

He's decided not to play it safe.

For the majority of my life, I've lived pretty safe. I've followed the expected pattern. I finished high school, then went straight to college. I picked a field of study that gave me a predictable job, majoring in math and getting a teaching certificate. I got married, had children.

Playing it safe is respectable, admirable, smart. Isn't it?

I've always thought so, but when I read the Bible, God does not let His kids play it safe. Hagar returns to Sarah who mistreated her. Rahab hides the spies. Abigail defies her husband to soothe the anger of David. Esther approaches the king though she could be killed for doing so. Mary says, "yes," though she surely will face public humiliation.

All respond to God's instructions, His unconventional instructions. None play it safe.

And all see God at work, up close and personal.

This makes me squirm. I want conventional. I want predictable. I want safe.

Am I willing to say I want God more?

I've long had a fascination with missionaries. I can't understand giving up the comforts of life to live among people who may or may not accept your message. I want to be that altruistic, but I'm not. How do they do it? Are they able to follow God's leading because they experience Him in a deeper way when not playing it safe?

I must admit my few forays into the unsafe zone have shown me God in a real and convincing way. We got married while we were both in college. We bought a house in an uncommon way. We raised (are raising) four children on one modest income. As a result, we've seen God provide in unusual ways. We've seen miracles. We've been forced to wait patiently for His plan and learned to value what He does.

But it's been scary sometimes.

Many times I've prayed for God to show Himself more real, to help me grow in a certain area, to appear in a miraculous way. He answers my prayers in unsafe ways, like praying for patience bringing more opportunities to be patient. I get unexpected trials, assignments that are too big for me, experiences I'd rather not go through.

Instead of seeing it as God leading me through the desert to the Promised Land, I think He's forgotten me, rejected me, wants to punish me. All the while He's saying, "Trust Me even when you can't see. Don't play it safe."

So I have to ask myself some tough questions. Do I want to experience more of God if it means leaving my comfort zone? Am I willing to do hard to know Him better and grow in faith? If I play it safe, will I miss being part of God's work? Will I miss knowing Him in a deeper, more meaningful way? Do I want to risk that for personal safety?

My fearful human self whispers, "I want You, God," but my pulse quickens. What if it hurts? What will He require of me? I can't know and I suppose that is the gift we give Him--trust without knowing. So I pray, "Yes, Lord, whatever You want," but ask for His mercy to come alongside. I breathe deeply and hang on.

Is God leading you out of your comfort zone to draw you closer to Him, to show You more of His love? Do you think Christians can play it safe?

Photo Credit: James Jordan

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