Frequently, I’ll have someone say to me, “Tricia, how are moving forward after facing such a tragedy and dealing with the aftermath on a daily basis?” And my response is, “How can I not?” I mean, listen, I honestly had a moment (or two) when I thought there was no way I could go on. I talked about that in a previous episode, that I literally felt like my life was over. Questions roll around in my head, still to this day, wondering if this is really as it was supposed to be. As in, from the very beginning of my life, was this path mapped out for me? I’ll dive deeper into that on another episode, but there are always moments when I’ve had time to slow down and process things that I realize that my life is not at all how I dreamed it would be. It has not turned out like I thought it would. And so what do you do about that? You keep on living, that’s what you do. Even when there is an element of our human nature that is threatened.
The title of this episode is Danger In Safety. What does that mean exactly? In light of my personal circumstances, I would tell you unequivocally that a place of safety is exactly where I need to be. In fact, my husband’s death threatened every inch of my personal, emotional, and financial safety, and to secure that again was first priority. Surely there was no danger in that at all, right?
The more I study human behavior, the more I’m convinced there is something wired in each one of us that seeks out a life that is safe. We work very hard to ensure safety in relationships, in our finances, our environment, and even our reputation. As humans, it’s been long known that we’ve been created with the 'Fight or Flight' response, an innate urgency to survive, to live. As a part of self-preservation, we’ve been built to desire security and comfort. So why on earth would there be danger in our safety?
In Matthew 10:39 – the New Living Translation, Jesus says, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
So Jesus is saying that we must give up our life so that we may find it. Do you ever wonder what that mean exactly? Like, practically, what does that look like in our lives? To give it up in order to find it.
So, we’ve already established that we’re built with this self-preservation craving. We work hard to create our little cocoon of safety. Creating this bubble of comfort. The bible calls these things “treasures” that we store up on earth. And these treasures are quite literally things that make us feel safe and comfortable in life- tangible and intangible. And God is asking us to give up those treasures on earth and tells us if we do, we will find true life.
So, are you sufficiently confused? Because if we’re wired to survive and, thus, to create situations around us to ensure that survival in safety and comfort, why is God asking us to give it up? Stop doing that? Well, one thing is for sure: If I don’t have or possess something, I surely can’t give it up, right? And unless it’s under coercion, my giving up a thing is done by choice. And that is the God of the Bible. The One who gives you the choice to love Him or not to love Him, to give up you life for Him…or not.
So, now, the question becomes, can I really do that? Can I give up those things that provide safety in my little world?
Hudson Taylor did it – the 1800s missionary to China. And I’m sure there are countless others who have done it, as well. So this place that I am in, the place that God is asking me to give up seeking comfort and safety in this world, is not new to the believer. He’s been asking this of His children since man was put on this earth. It’s a place of total dependence on and trust in God to provide all that you need in your life…for all of your life.
For me, this total dependence was coupled with a total desperation for God to show up…or else. There are several things – what I originally called “an unfortunate set of events” – that, when my husband died, immediately put me in a financially unfavorable position. There was a legal battle regarding his life insurance policy; there was my inheritance money from my parents' estate hold up in bankruptcy court with the investment company; there was also inheritance money withheld by disgruntled family members; and finally, the fact that the sole bread-winner of our home was now gone. All unfortunate. Or was it? If I hadn’t had been up against these difficult events that put me in such a daunting position, perhaps, no, for sure I would not have been as desperate for the presence and provisions of God. It keeps me humble and desperate. Safety and comfort in this world are gone. Only He can save me now. And how joyfully I fall into His hands.
I’ve never known a life so dependent on God. I certainly thought I did. But, I’m finding this is one of those things that “you don’t know until you know.” Hudson Taylor knew. That’s why he persistently put himself in a position of desperate need for the Lord to show up. If God didn’t show up in provisions he didn’t eat. Silly, don’t we all realize that if the Lord doesn’t give us our next breath we would die? We think we’re so independent. Arrogantly, we go about our life like we are independent and in control. That was me, for sure.
But to self-impose desperation, that is, to choose to give up the comforts and pleasures of this world for God is not a “martyr syndrome;” it’s an act of self-preservation. Let me explain that. Independently acting as if I am in control of my life is to not surrender to the truth of His sovereign rule and benevolent care in my life. I may give it lip-service, but it’s not ‘surrender’. Therefore, I am choosing a life outside of His fathering. I am holding Him at arm’s length that exposes the truth that He is not Lord of my life. So, if I push myself into a situation that I cannot but be surrendered, it is for my own good. It’s actual self-preservation.
To live in the “enoughness of Jesus” means that we give up comfort - embrace risk - apply faith. We learn to live solely dependent on God to care for us, protect us, supply for us, be our leader so that we are able to live free from the trappings of this world.
I have known and experienced God and His character in many ways over the years. But I’ve never known Him this way – to let go of everything, to put myself in such a risky place, to live solely dependent on Him showing up…or else; To live resolved that the security and comforts of this world are of no account, given up for the security and comforts found in my Lord.
Alan Fadling says in his book An Unhurried Life (pg. 156) “Moving toward maturity in our spiritual journey may invite us into the willing loss of good things to which we have become attached. God might invite us to release them so that our hands are open and able to receive Him. We approach spiritual maturity as we walk along a path of such loving surrender to the Lord.”
Friend, did you catch that? A “willing loss of good things to which we have become attached.” And, when I give those things up, what will I find that is “true life”? We’ll pick this up next week in the episode titled Risk and Reward.
So friend, what is or where is your comfort zone? What are you trying so desperately to construct or cling to in order to secure your feeling of safety? There’s great reward in living outside of our self-constructed safety bubbles. I promise you that! God is calling us, you and me, to a place where we happily surrender to living totally dependent upon Him. He wants us to be willing to put ourselves in situations of self-imposed desperation; to do things that make us uncomfortable and make us have to look to Him. Living a life of faith means we have to pull away our safety net; to live solely dependent upon Him to show up. I’m excited to share with you next week about what I experienced when I let it all go, threw caution to the wind; How I learned to live in the risk of true dependence and the incredible ways God showed up. I mentioned Matthew 10:39 earlier where Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it” – this is the “Danger in Safety” we’re talking about – living a life dependent upon ourselves and not God; Instead, Jesus says, “if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.”