Sometimes the Lord asks me questions that sit on the back burner of my mind and act as a corrosive to work away on my defenses. Earlier this morning I was thinking about what a rough week off I’ve had, and how restlessness and frustration has culminated in constant back pain that is easily aggravated by additional stress.
As I thought about frustrations that I experienced yesterday in particular, and thought about frustration in general (what it is) I realized that the reason I get so frustrated at times is that I’ve got an outcome in mind that I need to see happen in order to feel safe and secure. In any activity I engage in, I have an outcome in mind, some end result I’m seeking. Though there is nothing wrong with this, it becomes a problem when my will gets wrapped around that outcome as necessary to my well-being. I have to come to grips with the fact that due to traumas suffered in my past and my own sinful habits, I am often unable to differentiate outcomes from my well-being. In order for me to feel safe I must exert a sense of control upon whatever chaos I’m experiencing. A normal defense mechanism to survive a temporary crisis has become a hardened posture enthroning self-will as my only way to restore peace. It never works! The end result is the poison of self-will, leaving soul wreckage in its wake.
Into this thought process Jesus speaks:
“Beloved, what would it take for you to feel safe?”
Jesus’ question surprises me and seems to hit something I don’t have very well guarded. The question is not spoken in a harsh tone like, “don’t you know how much I’ve done for you?!?” It is more like a gentle invitation to re-consider the greatness of his goodness and the goodness of his greatness.
As I turn over the question in my mind, tears began to form as I realize that this – safety – is what I’ve really been searching for, what I’ve been fighting for and grasping for. It’s why I’ve been so frustrated and tense lately. I can now admit that I feel terrified inside and profoundly unsafe. I weep as I tell Jesus my sorrows and sins and receive his presence into my tears redeeming it all.
My commitment to self-protection and survival erodes into a broken dependence of needy tears. I rest, held together by arms better and stronger than mine. I trust that Jesus is my only safe place – my “refuge” as the Psalmists called it (Ps 18:1-2; 46:1).
I am reminded of Love poured out on the cross and Love risen. I remember the oh-so-good news of the Kingdom of God that Trinitarian Love is my habitation now that I’m “in Christ.” Gushing fountains of endless life are always within my reach; infinite love and all the safety that it affords is all around me, permeating my world, bathing my circumstances and experiences, filling my lungs. Jesus, have mercy, help me be open! Help me receive!
As I trust in Jesus I am growing in my ability to see the world (and my life) through his eyes, and coming to believe deep down that this world is a perfectly safe place for me to be, and for me to be me.