Sharifa Stevens's Blog
Grown Folks' Safety
When I was a kid, safety looked like the approval in my mom’s eye as she looked over my homework. It tasted like the crust-less peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches lovingly prepared by my grandma’s hands. Calm and comfort sounded like Daddy’s chatter-whistles as he called squirrels over for us to feed in the park. Safety felt like the heft and softness of my down comforter, right after my parents tucked me in, kissed my on the forehead, and turned my nightlight on.
And yes, safety was believing. Knowing, simply and truly, that yes, Jesusloves me, for the Bible – and my parents – told me so.
I long for the safety of my childhood. At the same time, it eludes me. Especially now, as my husband and I redefin(anc)e terms like ‘necessity’ and ‘luxury’, I understand better how the cares of this world can choke the life out of a person. I mean, ‘safety’ becomes car insurance, health insurance, life insurance; a steady job, a house, and at least one car. Safety gets bigger than a PB&J and feeding squirrels, and balloons to needing consistent proof of our spouse’s love, approval and upward mobility at work, popularity at school, living in a good neighborhood, and driving a Volvo.
I long for the unwavering certainty of wellbeing I used to have in these very uncertain circumstances. But I’m thinking that God made it so that safety cannot exist without the presence of danger. I’m sure Daniel felt that way in the lions’ den (Daniel 6). And Moses, right before the whole Red-Sea-on-one-side-and-pursuing-Egyptians-on-the-other episode (Exodus 14:5-29). And Esther in the king’s court (Esther 4:9-17, 7:1-10).
And Jesus, in the tomb, on the 2nd day.
The irony is, I can trace God’s protection and care after the trial is over. After the car that swerved into my lane somehow misses me. After the car repairs are paid for when we thought we couldn’t swing it. After he broke my heart, and I survived. It’s the trial that has heightened my awareness of God’s presence. And when I remember God’s presence in the last test, I am able to face the next one with more hope.
I’m not yet at that place where I’m thankful for the trial. And the endings don’t always seem happy, either. I have scars left where my heart was broken. The joy for me is in the fact that the Lord is there, a confidante, to listen, to witness my wounds, and to lift me up. My gratitude comes from knowing that Jesus is no foreigner to scars, and the Father has known loss and disappointment. What unfathomable mercy, that the Holy Spirit would intercede for me, even communicating and knowing my groanings.
I think safety does not come from the prevention of trouble, but in the presence of people who love you and have your back, whether that means taking the crust off of your sandwich or praying for you and with you, through the struggle. Grown folk’s safety (which I aspire to consistently believe) is confidence in being kept in the hand of God Himself; in spite of circumstances that make the media panic.
I know that these are hurting times for many people. I also can’t help but think of how our Father can use these circumstances to grow us up in our dependence on Him, and build a testimony that glorifies Him.
Yes, Jesus loves us. The Bible – and the trial we just got through – tells us so.