Are you thinking I got it wrong? You would be right if you are thinking about the saying “better safe than sorry” – implying we are either one or the other. But I beg to differ with this age old wisdom. While the old idiom implies that if you are safe or you play it safe, you will not be sorry, it is possible to be both safe and sorry at the same time. You see, sometimes safety comes at a very high price. And sometimes “safety” turns out not to be all that safe after all.
I was pondering this dilemma recently as I read about new technology that will be able to microchip children. Why? To keep them safe, of course. And since we all want to be safe, we should all get microchipped, right? In 1991, Chuck Colson predicted, “We are reaching the point where we will trade our freedoms for our personal safety.” Although he died in 2012, he would probably feel his prediction has come true, had he lived to experience these last two years of the pandemic.
So much was done to keep us “safe.” We were locked down, locked in, masked, distanced, isolated and vaccinated – all in the name of safety. We couldn’t be trusted to make good decisions for ourselves, so our government made those decisions for us. They decided who was essential and who wasn’t, who could have a funeral or a wedding or work out or eat out or have family over or be with a loved one in the hospital – the answer was no one could do any of those things. Now I know that our government normally doesn’t have the power or our permission to make those decisions for us, but an emergency was declared and apparently in an emergency we give our decision making power to the government. Then the question becomes, when and how do we get it back? Assuming we ever get it back?
But at least we were safe right? Well, actually the lockdowns didn’t protect us from the virus but they did hurt us in all kinds of ways. Lost work, lost wages, lost businesses, lost learning, anxiety and depression resulting from the isolation, increases in alcohol and drug addiction, suicide and illness due to lack of treatment. A high price to pay for being kept safe from the virus. Turns out, the vaccine hasn’t kept us safe from the virus either, but it has caused all kinds of unnecessary harm, including death, myocarditis, blood clots etc. to otherwise healthy people. Many I know are now sorry – they followed the rules and played it safe – now they realize they are not safe, but they are sorry.
Trading my freedom for my safety? Makes me think of a quote from C.S. Lewis’s story, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in which the question was asked about Aslan, the lion – “Is he safe?” The answer? “Of course he’s not safe, but he’s good!” There are things more important, more valuable, more enduring than mere safety.
The pilgrims must have believed this. I’m glad safety wasn’t their top priority when they left the comfort of civilization in England and set sail at great personal peril for the New World. If they survived the voyage, they still needed to face and figure out how to survive all the dangers in this new, unsettled land with no homes, no food – they left safety behind in pursuit of freedom – in particular, religious freedom.
Those who moved continually west across our country, left the safety of the land they had already settled in favor of unknown possibilities of a better life which they prized above their safety. I’m thankful our founders prized freedom over their own safety when they broke away from being subjects of the crown/king and at great personal cost, created a new nation complete with a Constitution that guarantees, not safety, but freedom and opportunity for every individual. I’m grateful for each and every person who fought to end slavery in this country, at great personal sacrifice, rather than continue to turn a blind eye and remain safe in their silence. Their choice to fight was not safe, but it was good.
Choosing to follow Jesus Christ is the same – it has never been the “safe” choice – eleven of the twelve disciples were killed for following where their faith in Jesus led them and today around the world, many know if they choose Jesus, it puts their lives in danger from that day forward. It is not the safe choice, but it is the good choice. Some things are more important than personal safety, like faith and freedom, the freedom to live out one’s faith. Those that left us this legacy of faith and freedom, did not put their own personal safety above their higher callings to God and country. How grateful I am to be an inheritor of the legacy they left to us all. Will we now forfeit this legacy because we prefer to be safe rather than free?
Our founders had faith in Someone greater than themselves and believed in something bigger than themselves – which is made clear in our founding documents and their early writings. Following Christ and walking by faith is not for wimps – it requires great courage. I think today we are asking ourselves the wrong question. We don’t need to know if someone or something is the safe way or the safe choice – we need to know if it is the right way, the right choice, if it is good, if it is a God honoring course of action – these will always come with risks – in the past, physical death, at the moment being “cancelled” but maybe tomorrow actual death will replace social media ostracization, job loss, loss of power, security and comfort in this current culture.
It’s time we started living our lives in this real, God created world, instead of a virtual world where we don’t know what’s real and what’s not. People can be controlled much more easily virtually than in reality, real time and real space. Safety at the expense of freedom? I think not! I’m with the guy who said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” (Patrick Henry) – and even more with the One who said “Take up your cross and follow Me.” He isn’t safe, but He is most certainly good. Following Him in faith is not for the faint of heart, it is for us who are brave enough to pursue truth, knowing eventually, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Our country is built on the sacrifices of those who did not put their personal safety above the greater good of a country where faith and freedom can flourish. We are currently told we must accept the loss of certain personal freedoms in the name of safety. Time for us to speak up before we become so “safe” that we are no longer free to do anything (worship, keep and bear arms, assemble, travel unrestricted, own our own homes and businesses, speak and write freely) or to make any health, personal, professional etc. decisions for ourselves.
Ironically, even our Creator leaves all decisions to us, whether to follow Him or not – pursue His ways or our ways. God gives us freedom of choice in all things. Why would we hand our God given freedoms over to government?
Lord, thank You that in You there is freedom and eternal life. You are not safe (by the world’s standards) but You alone are good. (” ‘Why do you call Me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’ ” Mark 10:18)
I can trust You with my life, and I do. I trust in You, not in schemes of man. Help me to be brave enough to choose freedom in You over the temporary safety the current culture offers if only I will look the other way, keep silent, and go along with those who want to impose their will on me “for my own good and the good of the nation.” May I sacrifice my safety now, so that my children can have a future of freedom and faith in You. You are not safe – but You alone are good.
If I choose safety over You, Lord, – in the end, I will be neither safe nor free, but I will be sorry.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ ” (Isaiah 6:8)
not safe – but good! not safe – but free!
sincerely, Grace Day