Yesterday morning while I ran errands, I listened to an NPR radio story about women on the front lines in Afghanistan. The story itself made me both uneasy and incredibly grateful for these women who feel a distinct calling that compels them to protect our freedom despite the cost to themselves. The 101st Airborne Division is trying out new combat gear that specifically fits women, and these women soldiers are able to interact with Afghan women and, in many ways, to help them. But besides all of that, what struck me was one woman soldier who had reached out to a young Afghan woman with a skin disease and had been ordering a skin cream online to help her. She told the woman to use the cream sparingly and hide it so the Taliban wouldn't notice, and then she said, "I know the risks. I just want to do what I can to help. I know it's not always safe."
I've been reading through the book of Acts in the last couple weeks, and have felt awed and convicted about how un-safe it all seemed. The boldness of these early Christians is astounding - from Stephen who fearlessly proclaims the truth before he is stoned, to Paul who enters Jerusalem despite the warnings that he will be attacked. From shipwrecks to face-to-face meetings with powerful government figures. The book chronicles a litany of situations involving danger, risk, urgency, mission.
And then I think about Christians today. Why have so many of us lost that urgency? When did we stop risking things for Christ? How did we get so comfortable? Nowhere in Scripture do I see the words, "Get safe. Get comfy. You've got all the time in the world." In fact, I see quite the opposite. Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil. I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
When I look around, I see comfort. Safety. I'm not excluded from this one tiny bit. So many of my days revolve around making myself comfortable: financially, emotionally, and physically.
Perhaps it's the droll of a full-time job that really isn't what the Lord has called a person to, but it provides benefits and stability so it doesn't make sense to leave and take the plunge toward what he or she is really passionate about. Maybe it's the single woman who feels called to missions, but is trapped by the fear that she won't meet a man and she's afraid to go overseas alone. Maybe it's the young mom who wants to reach out to the new neighbors but is held back by the fear of rejection.
Maybe it's me... using "I'm almost 9 months pregnant" as an excuse to dream a lot and do very little. In fact, I know it's me. I'm preaching to myself here more than any of you. It would be so easy to hunker down in these next few months - and even next few years - and be fully consumed with the baby and myself. And yes, there's lots to be consumed with: the around the clock feedings, the lack of sleep, protecting him from germs. And in some ways, it has to be that way for a little while. But not for long. Not forever. I so desire that our son sees his mom and dad taking risks, living big, giving lavishly and sacrificially.
So what does that even look like? I think it looks different for each of us. Maybe it's reaching out to a new neighbor that feels like a huge step. Maybe it's as big as quitting a job. Starting a business. Forgiving an enemy. Praying for a miracle. Making a big move. Writing an uncomfortable blog post.
I don't have the answers. But I do have a lot of questions that I can't help but put out there. I'm inspired by Paul and Stephen. I'm floored by the women soldiers who believe in their cause enough to risk their lives every single day. I'm astounded by the faith of believers in the persecuted churches around the world that I will never meet who love Jesus enough to risk their pride, their comfort, and their earthly lives.
If it's any solace, the safest place to be is in the center of God's will. Do you believe that? It's not comfortable, but it's safe... because God is there. Your Shield and Protector. The One who loves you beyond what you fathom. If He won't let a sparrow fall apart from His control, and He knows every hair on your head - don't you believe He'll guide you and provide for you in what He's called you to do?