by Christina Fox
I’ve learned much about myself since becoming a parent.
One of those lessons was learned out on the soccer field. One Saturday morning, I sat on the sidelines watching my son play a game. Many of his teammates were not participating (they were six years old, after all). They stared at the sky or played in the grass, leaving my son and another boy to play the game. Tired and frustrated, my son came over for a drink with a combination of sweat and tears running down his face. I had seen how hard he worked, running up and down the field while the other boys did nothing. As I watched him run right back into the game, I realized that had it been me on that field, I would have turned the other way.
Playing It Safe
When faced with challenges, trials, and difficulties in life, I tend to walk out of the game. If conflict comes my way, like a turtle, I crawl into my protective shell. And when something becomes too hard, instead of trying again and again, I give up. I do whatever I can to protect my heart from pain, preferring to play it safe.
This tendency of mine showed itself recently when I faced challenges connected with my writing. Shortly after I wrote an article titled “Rejection Redeemed” I experienced painful rejection from an old friend. My heart’s first response was to back up, turn around, and play it safe. I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t write about such hard things. Maybe I should write about ‘safer’ topics.”
Playing it safe is something many of us do. When a relationship becomes hard and the other person fails us in some way, we may withdraw from them. We may keep friendships casual and superficial rather than taking a risk to trust and open up about who we really are. Though gifted in ways that would benefit the body of Christ, we may keep those gifts to ourselves, perhaps out of fear of failure. Maybe we know we are called to serve God and his Kingdom in some way, but like Jonah, we rebel and flee to Tarshish. Running away seems like the only way to protect ourselves from pain, heartache, and fear.
What Is True “Safety”?
The truth is, we are not safe because we run and hide from trouble. We are not safe because we don’t speak up for what’s right. We are not safe because we turn from conflict and walk out of the game. We aren’t even safe because we are never vulnerable and real with others. No, we are safe only because of what Jesus did for us at the cross.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on his final week, he knew it wasn’t safe there. Leading up to his arrival, he told the disciples what would happen to him.
“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).
In his final moments before arrest, he sweated blood as he faced the reality of what was to come. And though he pleaded to the Father for the cup to pass, he obeyed the Father’s will and drank the cup of God’s wrath for us.
It’s because Jesus suffered the full fury of God’s wrath in our place that we are safe. True safety is found in being a child of God, an heir of the Kingdom, a sinner forgiven. With Jesus as our Savior there is nothing and no one who can truly hurt us. We are safe in the hands of God. The most fearful and horrendous thing that could happen to us has been taken away–eternity apart from God–what then can anyone do to us?
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Even as I shed tears over a lost friendship, I know it doesn’t mean “Game Over” for me. I do not have to run and hide. I do not have to quit or play it safe. Though the skirmishes in life are hard, though the plays may be challenging, and though those around me may not play fair, I know that Christ is with me and has in fact already won the victory. Being in Christ is the safest place on earth, even in the scariest place on earth. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4).
How about you? Do you ever want to run and hide or play it safe?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Christina Fox is a homeschooling mom, licensed mental health counselor, writer, and coffee drinker, not necessarily in that order. She lives in sunny South Florida with her husband of sixteen years and their two sons. Christina blogs at To Show Them Jesus.