Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Trouble With All Things Safe

Sometimes you’re just chugging along and suddenly life jumps up and spikes you to the ground like a volleyball. You can’t believe it. You don’t even know how to react because you are in shock from the jolt. It could be anything, financial setback, sudden illness, a family death or upheaval. One day you’re all cozy in status quo and the next you’re struggling to survive or regain your equilibrium.

Trouble is something we can never be completely prepared for or shielded from either, no matter how hard we try to buffer ourselves. However we cannot live in constant expectation of worse case scenario because living in daily fear of trouble is not living at all, rather it’s standing guard while life marches past, conversely, we cannot ignore that trouble can happen at anytime and usually without warning.

Life can never be fully trouble proof nor safe either but “trouble-free and safe” has become a mantra whispered in our ears and taught to us as though it were a natural right. In fact, we seem to have become fixated with all things safe.

I watch with amazement as this new standard has slowly evolved. I don’t know how it began but it seems that in all ways, in all things, we have been brainwashed to believe that our lives can and should be without trouble and completely safe if we are simply vigilant enough. We can avoid the flu if we take shots, we can protect ourselves from all manner of larceny, theft, fire, accidents (pick one) if we use caution and load up with insurance. We can count on government and consumer advocates to monitor any and all things potentially harmful to us. If we read warning labels and cautionary statements we can reduce the chance of electric shock, skin broken or blood spilled. And even when we disregard the warnings, we can always blame manufacturers if we misuse a product that injures us. 

Apparently pain and suffering has a hefty dollar value now.

Unfortunately, regardless what we have been told, living in this world remains naturally full of risk. Here’s a newsflash: safe is not a right bestowed on us at birth. We come into this world without guarantees. The human infant is hardwired to accept risk as a given or no one would ever learn to walk upright. New dangers emerge daily; we cannot stop them nor avoid them. 

And if we could, should we? 

Progress is the end product of trial and error. Innovation is the result of risk takers stepping outside of what is sure. Pioneers who strike out for new territory often die trying. Trouble and tribulation are the knives that carve character into life. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with being safe, it’s only a small part of what is worthwhile about living. Sometimes standing up to conflict and surviving is ten times more satisfying than hiding behind security. To spend our days obsessed with avoiding every possible scenario of strife is to deny us opportunities for growth. Yes, risk is dangerous and sometimes we get hurt, even irreparably. Sometimes the price seems too high. But wisdom is rarely born of status quo and what is wisdom worth? How valuable is courage that stares squarely in the face of insurmountable odds and emerges triumphant? 

If I had to choose, I’d pick courage that overcomes rather than security that shields because the myth of life that is trouble free and safe was created to sell product and service not preserve us from harm. Safe and secure does not always guarantee quality of life either anymore than wealth insures happiness. 

Establishing a fear of everything is the perfect set up for enslavement because a society obsessed with being safe at all times is already enslaved to fear. Ironically, those who fear nothing and no one but God, live in complete freedom from all other fears.

For Christ,

(Matthew 6:27) And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?  

To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him. ~ Oswald Chambers 

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