When Living a Saved Life Isn’t Safe

{By Yolanda Jackson}

As summertime settles in, I’ve been praying for many of my friends, including my sister, who are about to head out on foreign mission trips this summer. In my prayers for them I always ask that God would keep them safe so they can carry out his work in the country they are serving.

No sooner did I finish one prayer where God convicted me that safety is not always His plan for our lives.

safety and the christian life

The conviction should not have been so shocking for me, but it was. I want to share what God put on my heart about this particular conviction. I hope that it will encourage any of you InsideOut readers that are also heading out on mission for the Lord this summer.

When I was probably 7 or 8 years old I received my first Bible, it was one of those leather-bound Precious Moments Bibles. As of today, the binding is hanging by a couple feeble threads that I’m tempted to snip off so I can superglue the whole thing back together. Anyway, when I received it the first scripture I memorized was Psalm 91. Most Christians know that Psalm 91 is an often quoted Psalm about safety and the Lord’s protection; it is often referred to as the soldier’s prayer for those fellow members of the faith who are also in the armed forces.

As I memorized this Psalm I mistakenly believed that God would always keep me safe from the “bad things” in life.

As Psalm 91:9-10 says: “Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you.” And that is emphatically true, I believe that with my whole heart but I think I misunderstood this scripture to mean that nothing bad will ever happen to me.  This is not what the Psalmist means, what he means is that when we encounter danger (because we will encounter danger)  we can be certain of God’s presence whether to comfort us or to rescue us because we have made the presence of God our safe place, our refuge. There literally is no evil, no danger that can occur or “befall us” that the sovereign presence of God does not permeate.

As we practice the presence of God through spiritual disciplines like mediating on scripture, praying, and praising God in worship, we enter into the “dwelling place” of God.

He becomes our immediate safe place in times of trouble.

But I know that in my life, as well as in the lives of many faithful people in Scripture (e.g. Jesus, Paul, Esther, Job, Naomi, etc) that sometimes God allows us to encounter great tragedy and danger for purposes that we have yet to understand. This made me think that perhaps safety is a benefit of being in the presence of God, but not the destination for the people of God as we live in the world. One of my favorite passages of scripture, affectionately referred to as the Hall of Faith affirms this by saying:

“. . . and others were tortured . . . others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground, men of whom the world was not worthy.”

–Hebrews 11:35-38

Men of whom the world was not worthy . . .

This was the conviction I was given during my prayer for my friends going out on mission, it came through the above Hebrews passage.  I began to realize that I did not fully accept that the Christian life isn’t always going to be safe. God doesn’t promise me safety. God promises me deliverance and honor (Psalm 91:15). And most of all he promises me his presence. God kept Psalm 91 in the canon of Scripture because he knew we needed reassurance of his presence even in times when we’d have to encounter danger and endure.

This should be of great encouragement for us 21st century believers who live a world that has literally escaped from reason. A world where the threat of ISIS beheadings, the devastation of racial prejudice, the collapse of world economies, injustice in our justice systems, and the advanced schemes of satan that threaten foreign mission fields are all actual realities of our day.

Regardless, Psalm 91 assures us that our protection is found in Christ alone—in the truth of what Jesus has already done to reconcile us to himself on the cross.

Therefore, my goal as a Christian is not to lead a safe life.

Our goal as God’s people goal is not to protect ourselves from the dangers of the mission field, by packing ourselves tightly into a church building. Our goal is not to hide from using our spiritual gifts as we sit in our pews Sunday after Sunday, taking more notes. Our goal is not to get caught up making a living in the world instead of making a difference for the Kingdom. Our goal is not to keep our children so comfortable and protected that they don’t understand how to encounter a world that desperately needs to see the light of Christ in their hearts and minds.

And our goal is definitely not to reach the gates of Heaven safely and have Jesus say to us: what did you do with the one talent I gave you, and we respond “Oh that thing, I buried it—you know to keep it safe” (Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30).

No.

We are Easter people. We are the people of God. The idea of a personal, monotheistic God— the God who is there and has made Himself known is entrusted to Christians. It is expected of us to have great expectations and get our hands dirty protecting and furthering the interests of God and His people. After all, our God is great, it’s His wisdom that set the universe in motion, His hands that made human life, and it’s His love that’s keeping the stars apart!

Therefore, my purpose as a daughter of the King, our purpose as the elect of God is not to live safe lives but to live  . . . saved lives; lives that demonstrate the mystery of how a perfect Man, who being in very nature God, could shed His own precious blood to buy us back from slavery to sin and death.

Do not misunderstand me, it is not easy for me to say these things.

I want to be safe and I want you to be safe too, because living a saved life is sometimes risky, undignified, and dangerous.

But the fact is there’s something here that’s bigger than my life, bigger than your life—that’s cause of Christ. And you and I are called to know and to honor God and to make disciples of all nations. We are called to preach. To exhibit by our conduct a model of what we hold to be true and to somehow get out into the medium of human language the truth about God. To do this, we’ve got to be willing to do hard things and put ourselves out on that proverbial limb sometimes, requiring the necessity of divine intervention. For us to do less than that is to forsake our calling.  For us to do less than that is to pretend that The Great Commission will not also require great risks.

 “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure (or shall we say danger) … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

God help us.

God help me and help my friends going into the mission field not to concern ourselves with whether peril or security lies ahead. Help us Lord to create with our lives only something which can be held to highest standard of Jesus Christ and to make His supreme worth the centerpiece of everything we create, whether safety or danger lies ahead. 

“Yes, LORD walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; for your name and your fame (not our comfort and safety) are the desire of our hearts.”

–Isaiah 26:8

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