I tend to like to stay safe. In my younger years I was a downhill skier but I always preferred to go across the hill rather than race straight down. I am just not a risk taker. There is not a type T bone in my body.
As many of you know I recently went to Liberia to attend their Annual Conference. And in keeping with my character, I worked very hard at staying safe. I took several bottles of hand sanitizer and used the stuff at least 20 times a day. I carefully placed my water bottle beside the sink and held it in my hand while I brushed my teeth, lest I accidently run my brush under the water and ingest the local hydro-toxins. I had several meals of plain white rice so that I could be assured I was not eating something that might make me sick. I wanted to stay as safe as possible and minimize the chances of getting ill.
At the opening worship service of the Conference we sang and watched as the choirs processed in. We listened to an excellent sermon and prayed together offering our hearts to God. Then I noticed we were going to share in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. I thought about the bread and the juice and where the water had come from to make them and I said to those around me as the elements began to be distributed. “Is it safe?”
The irony of the question hit me almost immediately. And the question has stayed with me for the two weeks now since I asked it. It is a much deeper question than the biological composition of the bread and juice. For the deeper question for me revolves around the whole reality of my faith. Is my faith safe? Do I stay in the places of least resistance, shrink in the face of challenge, run for cover when God invites me to step out of a particular boat and walk to Jesus on the water? I am afraid that for me the answer much too often is yes. But a safe faith, a faith without risk, a faith that glides by day after day along the simple and easy road is not really much of a faith at all.
The question has stayed with me and I’m hoping that it continues to stay with me for some time to come. Because what I really want, what I believe we all need is a faith that is not safe at all. A faith that rides the wave of God’s Spirit into places and situations that calls us to constantly trust in God and go where God leads. A faith that lives the adventure faith is really designed to be.
I will probably always ski across the hill, I’m just not ever going to be a racer. But I pray I continue more and more to be a person of risky faith. For I’m convinced that’s where real life in Christ is found.
P.S. I never did get sick in Liberia!