Monday, December 7, 2015

Word Play: Safe

A friend’s recent Facebook post: "Safely back after 40 days on the road. Praise God!"

Facebook comments as we headed home to Turkey: over half expressed wishes and prayers for our safety.

In our recent months in the US I heard the safe word daily, whether hopping on my bike, heading out to camp, or embarking on a cross-country wander.  And there was the constant question about our life in Turkey: “Is it safe there?

My not-so-safe response: “Is that how we decide where we will go, or how we will live?”

The wish, the question, is spoken in love. But, to echo Jesus’ reaction to Peter’s certainty that he should avoid the cross, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me.” (ESV)

“SAFE” has become a Very Important Word. We talk about it a lot. In its honor we endure long lines and virtual strip searches. We strap our kids into ever-bigger and more complicated contraptions. Students pass through metal detectors to enter schools. Phone and internet use is recorded, and we wonder how often our phone or email conversations are available to those who think they need to know. Police background checks are required before we can help out in the nursery. We submit healthy bodies to costly medical tests to rule out remote possibilities. Even the proliferation of guns is justified by the right to keep ourselves “safe.”
Our daughter Cait, and the "careful" sign we brought from Turkey at the birth of our first grandchild. I'll leave you to guess the content.

So is the “safe” question even relevant? What is “safe?” Is that a better question? Be safe from what? Okay, that’s two questions. Is danger imminent? Yes, there are traffic accidents, snakes and scorpions, and bombs. Earthquakes and street crime. But what are the odds that in any given place chaos will erupt today? And if danger is imminent, what is the human need, the call of compassion? Where is the wisdom in extravagant safety measures that cost massives of time and money, and, all too often, keep people away from those who most need them, from the dark and troubled places?  Do we draw the line in a reasonable cost-benefit-analysis place? Do we draw it at a compassionate place?

Safety is a consideration. But, I have to think, not such a big one as we make it today.

So as we go forth…. Please. Wish us courage, constancy, humor, perspective, generosity, wisdom, and fruitfulness. Mastery of language, deep wells of energy to pour out, and keep oozing out, compassion and blessing. Wish it. Pray it.

And we will wish, and pray, the same for you.

That great crowd of witnesses remains much in my thoughts. I took these photos yesterday at the ruins of  St Nicolas' basilica just 45 km from home.


Molly said...

I just finished reading this post aloud to Brent, and we both appreciated it. Well spoken!

Jeri Bidinger said...

I should probably have added: "and, after all that, wish us safety." For it does matter, eh? Thanks for your note--nice to hear from you!