Some time ago, I received notice that a loved one was the target of an unstable person’s anger and possible conspiracy. The threat was legitimate enough that the police were involved. I was informed, along with others, just in case we were in danger as well. I can’t explain the depth of the fear that crept into my life with this news. The best way to describe it is that fear oppressed me like humid summer air, settling until it was everywhere, covering my skin and filling my lungs. I was afraid to leave the house. I was afraid to open the windows for any length of time, even when it was stifling. I was afraid to spend time with the aforementioned loved one, just in case I would be in danger, too. My life drifted towards lockdown.
Shortly after I began living in fear, I had a realization that completely changed my understanding of the situation. I saw that I was gripped by irrational thoughts, just as this crazy person was. My mind kept drifting back to the thought if I were careful enough, if I just did enough, if I just avoided enough “dangerous” situations, I could keep myself and my family safe, all of which are no more rational than believing a rabbit’s foot will bring me luck. I can take steps to be safer, but the truth is: someone who wants to hurt me will find a way to do so, no matter what I do. Paradoxically, this realization freed me from living in constant fear while inviting me to find peace.
Many of us have things we do to make us feel more secure. We think, if we have money in the bank, or lock our doors, avoid certain places, or watch our kids like a hawk, then nothing bad can happen. The trouble is that bad stuff happens all the time. Everything we do only makes us think we’re safe; however, the world isn’t safe, no matter how careful we are. We saw this clearly (yet again) in the school shooting last week. Our security is only an illusion when it relies on the things of this world.
This shouldn’t be surprising, after all, Jesus promised his followers that the world was unsafe, especially if you choose to follow him. Thankfully, he also encouraged his followers with these words:
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, Who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Jesus tells his followers in essence: “God sees you. He knows and values your lives. No matter what happens in this world, nothing will pluck you from his hands.” When we’re in danger, it’s only temporary. Even if a person kills us, they cannot take us away from Our Heavenly Father. Our bodies may be in danger, but in Christ, our soul is safe forever. It’s not that the danger disappears. The unstable person is still out there somewhere. But the power of Jesus’ words is that they dwarf what any person can do with the magnitude of what they can’t do. That is real security.
Such security is freeing. When I realize that I can do everything I’m supposed to and still not get what I want (or avoid what I don’t want), I am forced to find security in the only truly safe place: Jesus. My faith isn’t in superstition (if I do something, it magically makes something else happen), it’s in his power to provide, protect, and overcome. Real security doesn’t oppress, it alleviates and brings with it peace as refreshing and welcome as the fall breeze that sweeps away the summer heat.