When we picked out our puppy we noticed what turned out to be an umbilical hernia. The vet said it was not dangerous and she could fix it, if necessary, when he was neutered. When the time came, it looked like the hernia likely would cause no problem. Since he was already having surgery we could choose to add that repair to avoid the small possibility of difficulty. We decided to take the safe route and went ahead and had it repaired. As it turned out, the stitches from that part of his stomach would not lie flat so staples had to be used. Chance healed very well from the neutering but got an infection from licking the area with the staples. We were told that another surgery might be needed to fix the hernia. In the end he wore an Elizabethan collar (jokingly called “the cone of shame”) for a week and took antibiotics and all was well. Basically, Rocky and I took what we thought would be the safe route but it could have ended up being the more complicated one.
All around us are examples of people making what they think will be safer choices that actually end up being problematic. A driver picks a certain route with less traffic and less history of wrecks, only to be in a car accident. An athlete changes a routine immediately before competition in order to play it safe, only to fail because he or she had not practiced the watered down version. A soldier survives several tours in Iraq only to come back to the U.S. to be murdered in a city with little violence.
Of course it makes sense that we are often safety-conscious. It is wise to wear seat belts, to child-proof a home for toddlers, to set aside money in case of an emergency, etc. The problem comes when we fail to take the risks that God calls us to take or when we delude ourselves into thinking that our precautions can protect us from most negative things. We have no such control. No amount of planning or praying will allow us to avoid bad situations. We can’t bubble wrap ourselves or our children to keep from getting hurt. The good news is that God promises “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)
As we live in accordance with the Scriptures, God probably will call us to do things that are risky. These could include speaking up against injustice or for biblical standards, giving more generously than financial advisors might recommend, or missionary service in dangerous places. Being a Christian should not be safe.
In C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan, the great Lion, represents Jesus. Susan, nervous about meeting the Lion, asks “Is he quite safe?” Mr. Beaver replies, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”