“But, is it safe?” The question, perhaps, that is on everyone’s lips. Is the vaccine safe? When will it be safe for lockdown to be lifted? Can it be safe to travel to other countries, safe to go out for a meal, or to be out at night? Safe to send our children to school, or our young people to university? The world does not feel very ‘safe’ anymore.
We all know that there is a hidden killer out there, that we can neither see, nor smell, nor sense in any way. The government’s message, ‘Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives’ has become the greeting ‘stay safe’. We all want the ones we love, our family and friends to be safe but it seems that no-one is quite sure how we can do that. Even as restrictions to our daily lives are lifted, the new sense of greater freedom is countered with the fear that it might all be too soon.
So how did the message ‘Stay Home’, become the plea ‘Stay Safe’? Our health and safety culture has clearly saved countless lives from preventable accidents and disease. We have learned the value of assessing risk and of taking careful precautions. Perhaps we have become so good at this, that our safety, and that of those we care about, has become our primary concern. ‘Safety First’ is our mantra, after all, who doesn’t want to ‘Stay Safe’?
Those walking the streets at night feel uneasy, knowing that darkness sometimes hides danger. We want to feel confident, certain that nothing bad may happen to us, knowing that we should not have to feel this unease and yet being aware that not everyone is friendly or cares about our safety. Today we long for life to return to ‘normal’. To return to the place where we did not have to think about the risks of catching a virus or worse still, of losing someone close to a hidden killer. We all wonder when will it be safe to live again?
At Easter, we are reminded that life is not safe. That terrible things happen to good people. That among those responsible for seeing that justice is done are people with different agendas. Dangerous individuals do evil things however hard we try to make it for them. We are reminded that trusted institutions sometimes betray that trust. That well-meaning people sometimes hide things that should be brought out into the open.
The writers of the New Testament describe a world filled with people and circumstances, injustice and danger, inequality and oppression. It is a world in which there is much that is wrong and yet they see in it the hope of something better. The truth is, the world is a dangerous place. Our lives are filled with risk. Fear is our natural response to danger. But ‘safety’, on the other hand, is a dream, an ideal, it is something we promote but never really achieve.
The word ‘safe’ is not found in the New Testament. The fearful friends in the boat soaked by the storm sensed their closeness to death and in their fear, they cried out, not for safety, but for someone to save them. Their saviour’s response was not to issue life-jackets but to demonstrate that it was he who is in control, even of the waves. Rescued from the storm, the friends lived hope-filled lives until one was be-headed by a local war-lord, another arrested and executed and the rest became refugees fleeing persecution. They were never safe, but they were saved!
Perhaps then we might consider the difference between ‘being safe’ and ‘being saved’. The first requires the removal of all risks that might endanger our lives and offers the opportunity to live a little longer. The second, frees us from the fear, replacing it with a certainty that ‘no matter what happens today’ we know the one who is in control of this world and all its storms. Being safe requires the world to be what we know it is not and costs us the curtailment of our freedom to live in this unsafe world. We were safer locked-down, locked inside our homes, but was that really living?
The one who has the power to calm every storm we face, on hearing his companions cries in the boat, did not respond by telling them they had nothing to fear. He did not answer their fear with soothing words of comfort. He did not tell them that they should never have left the safety of the shore; after all, it was he who had suggested they set out. When the wind and the waves had responded to his command and the storm had passed, as most storms do, he questioned their lack of faith.
Perhaps, now as world leaders talk of bringing countries together, to work for “peace, prosperity, health and security” as they consider the potential of future pandemics dwarfed by the monster of environmental and ecological catastrophe, we need to consider what faith is and who it is we place our faith in.
An ancient author defined faith as ‘being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’. This is not blind faith, or optimism despite the evidence, but the faith of those who had got into the boat at the direction of a friend, who had sailed through life’s storms and who had discovered that this friend who was with them, had the power to save them through the storm.
He, too, has the power to save us through his taking the worst the world can do to anyone upon himself. He took the oppressor’s prejudice, the authorities’ injustice, the leaders’ bigotry, the abusers’ violence and the disease’s death and disarmed them, overcame them through his own suffering and death. The friend in the boat, the one with the power to calm the storm, because he was the one who had created the lake and the wind and world in which he walked, has experienced the worst of the world and for our sake has overcome it.
I have decided to place my faith in him. I am sure that the life he offers in this world, now and in the future when he brings about its restoration, are things worth hoping for. I am certain that his presence with me every day has seen me through many storms and will through many more. We can never be safe, but I know that through both life and death, my life is safe in his hands, and that frees me to live without fear today.
If you would like to know more about the one in the boat, his name is Jesus. If you would like to know more about him or about Dales Faith please get in touch. You can contact us through our website ‘dalesfaith.org’ or via Facebook. If you would like to be notified of future blogs please sign up.
Maybe this song will inspire you today and remind you that we are not made to be slaves.