Who Said Faith Was Safe?

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon we decided to go for a horseback ride.  After getting the horses caught and saddled we rode out towards the river hills cloaked in the emerald green color of life.

As we drew near the forest that traces the top of the river banks, I found myself hesitating to delve into the woodland.  It would be much easier and safer to just ride along the edge of the forest, for this time of year it is not unusual to find all kinds of forest creatures – cute fawns, furry rabbits, growly bears, chattering squirrels, protective mothers, yippy coyotes – in the various niches of the depths.

Some days I am up to the adventure of a forest ride, but other days…like that day…I just wanted to “play it safe” and stay out in the open where I would easily be able to spot anything that might be a little dangerous.

But, we didn’t do that!

We crossed through the gate and passed under the towering sentinels that stood guard at the forest edge.  As soon as we crossed the line, it immediately grew darker.  The horses became more alert.  The foliage was so thick it was impossible to see what might be lurking around us.  We walked forward for about a moment when the front horse stopped and raised his head high!

There in front of us was a mother moose and her baby.  The mother darted into the trees and the baby was left behind.  As he called frantically for his mom, we skirted around the trees in a different direction.  We didn’t want to confuse the moose calf, nor did we want to come between him and his mother, as mother moose can be extremely aggressive.

We had not traveled much further when once again the lead horse came to a dead stop.  There in front of us was a black bear that appeared to have been silently tracking the moose and her calf.   Our sudden appearance confused that bear, and he nosily plunged into the underbrush.  His presence was no longer a secret.

That day by us choosing the more difficult path…the path with blind corners…the path filled with more dangers than the path that went through the open fields…the path that was not without risk…

We were able to foil the plot of a hungry bear to feast on a moose calf by getting in between the bear and the calf.  Our presence helped to protect and keep safe that calf.

I have been reflecting on this incident a lot today, and I am reminded that as much there are times I would like it to be…

The call to live this life by faith is not safe.

In Matthew 16:25, Jesus speaks of losing our lives so that we can save it, and those that try to save their own lives will surely lose it.  Losing my life to take up my cross and follow after Him doesn’t always seem that safe.  Nor is it always easy or comfortable.

I think of Abraham and God’s call for him to sacrifice his own son…the son that he loved…the son of promise…the son through whom God was going to fulfill His promise to Abraham.  Can you imagine?  How is that safe?

It isn’t.

Yet, God didn’t ask Abraham to do what seemed to be safe.  He asked Abraham to be willing to lay down that which was most precious…that which was God’s own gift to him…

On the altar.

I think of the verses in Jeremiah 22:3 where God says, “Do what is just and right.  Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed…”

Do you know what happens when you stand in the gap between the oppressor and the one who is being oppressed?

While you help to protect the one who is tyrannized, you may find yourself now with a bulls-eye on your own back…

And that isn’t a safe place to be.

1. Peter 1:6 speak of suffering grief…sorrow…hardship in all kinds of trials. Pain isn’t easy.  Suffering isn’t comfortable.  Difficulties aren’t safe.

Yet, these are all parts to walking by faith and losing our lives for the sake of Christ in order that we may find our lives…

In Him…

Who is sovereign over all…forever faithful…compassionate and caring…loving… merciful…gracious…the giver of every gift…the provider of every need…the One who holds us in His hand…the director of our steps…the sustainer of our lives.

If I try to live my life of faith in a manner that is safe by trying to protect my life when He asks me to lay it down…

Or by trying to guard the gifts He gives me when He asks me to sacrifice them on the altar…

Or by not standing in the gap when He directs my paths to get between the oppressor and the one being oppressed…

Or by seeking to navigate around the trials that He has specially designed and brought into my life in order to refine and grow my faith…

I lose.

I miss out on the abundant joy that is reserved for those who learn to rejoice in the Lord…

Always.

I miss out on the incomprehensible peace that is for those who present to God petitions and requests with thanksgiving.

I miss out on the abundant life God desires for all His children as they walk by faith, because I am so busy trying to protect my own life, instead of leaving it in the hands of God Almighty to guard and protect.

Walking by faith is the path by which we discover the riches of God and faith that are ours as we lay down our lives…

Take up our cross…

And follow after Him…

Wherever He leads…

Even when it isn’t safe.

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