She stuck her head in the door from outside and yelled, “Hey, Mom, what does ‘safe’ mean?”
I was cooking dinner and couldn’t hear her well.
“What did you say, Riah?”
About that time, her oldest brother, Will, answered her for me.
“It means being in the right place at the right time.”
So much of my life has been spent seeking safety. Safety in my home. Safety in my relationships. Safety for my kids. Let’s just all be safe together, ok?
Adoption and loss and infertility and pediatric cancer have taken any shred of control I thought I had. The safety net I thought I could keep around us all is gone. I can’t keep my kids from hurting. I can’t even keep myself from it. We are not safe.
Unless I’ve been defining it incorrectly my entire life.
If I’d answered my daughter that day, I would have said, “Free from harm.” Short and to the point. And yes, it’s also one of my desires for my family. Free from harm. Safe.
But what if Will’s definition is a lot more like God’s?
When I read Scripture, I don’t see a lot of stories about people who were free from harm. In fact, a lot of the stories are somewhat terrifying. How are we supposed to feel safe in God’s arms when the world around us seems to be crumbling, when sometimes our own homes seem to be falling apart?
Maybe we need to adjust our definition.
Being in the right place at the right time means we are obedient to what God has called us to do at the time He’s called us to act. For you, maybe that means you go love your neighbor. Literally the widow next door. Serve faithfully in the children’s ministry at your church. Sign up to be a foster family. Call your mom and apologize. Take a meal to the single mom down the street and listen to her story. Do what He’s calling you to do when He’s asking you to do it.
This time in our life doesn’t feel safe in the traditional sense. Our income changes weekly and is lower than it’s ever been. Our kids are leaving the only school they’ve ever known. Will still has monthly oncology appointments and scary tests. We have no idea what life will look like in a few months. Or a few months after that.
But we are safe. We are secure. Are we free from harm? Definitely not. Change is hard. Cancer is hard. Life is hard. But the feeling of knowing we are in the right place at the right time overshadows the fears. We are content because we know this is the thing we are supposed to do right now. And that’s all anyone can do- the next right thing.
I can’t wrap my kids in bubble wrap. I can’t keep them free from harm. But I can teach them that being a part of God’s story is the most fun, risky, exciting, and yes, sometimes difficult, thing they’ll ever do. And that’s enough.