“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”
God isn’t safe. I think sometimes I want him to be. No, let me rephrase that. There are many times where I want God to be safe. If God was safe and what he offered was physical comfort and safety he would never have called my family from a comfortable life in Texas to a pastorate in Kansas. He would have known that we had it good. Good friends. Good church. A safe god would have provided a perfect job right there in DFW where we could live a comfortable middle class life.
But God isn’t safe.
God called my family to a church in Kansas. Like most young pastors I had a head full of dreams. Dreams of preaching through books of the Bible. Dreams of discipling a small group. Dreams of seeing the church reach the community and push back darkness. Good dreams. Godly dreams. If God was safe, I’d still be pastoring. There would have been no trials and tribulations. There would have been unity. There would have been growth. If God was safe he would not grow us through difficulties. But then, I wonder, would we ever be truly refined? Would the impurities be melted away and the rough edges sanded down if our God was a safe god?
But God isn’t safe.
Right now there are more unknowns facing my family than at any other time. If the Army picks me up for Active Duty it will be the fulfillment of a decade long dream. It will truly be a life altering event. If the Army doesn’t pick me up for Active Duty it will be…well…hard. Very hard. That too will be a life altering event. What happens with that board in less than two weeks is a true fork in the road. If God was safe he’d give me exactly what I want. There’d be no stress because he’d make sure my dreams were fulfilled and that I’d go on to have a successful ministry and career on Active Duty.
But God isn’t safe.
But…but…he is good.
Here’s what Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-11:
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Ask! Seek! Knock! God is a God who gives good gifts to his children! So that must mean that God is safe, right? Surely those gifts would never be anything that would bring discomfort or difficulty? I’m still wrestling with this and working through it. I’m preparing myself for the possibility that God might not open that door for Active Duty. I’m trying to ground myself in the truth of Scripture so that whatever the result I can see God’s hand in it.
I’m wrestling with seeing that God’s good gift for me was the difficulties I faced in my last pastorate because, despite my shortcomings, he still chose to use me to accomplish good. I vividly remember praying in an empty sanctuary that more than anything else I wanted God to be glorified and that if that meant I could no longer lead that church, so be it. I may not see it now and I certainly haven’t arrived at a place where I’m at peace but I’m endeavoring to learn how God used those circumstances as a good gift. Something that brought glory to him and molded me closer to his will. I believe that God answered and is still answering that prayer. That he used my short tenure for his glory and that there will be lives touched that I may never know about because of that challenging season.
He is not safe but he is good and he gives good gifts to his children. Whatever happens in a couple of weeks will be for his glory. It is so much easier to type those words than to force them into my heart and soul. The truth is that I’ve had a lot of mental turmoil as I try to wrestle with how I’ll respond if the answer is no. But even with all the unknowns and even with all the doubts and even with all the stress there remains a firm foundation. Thankfully, I didn’t put that foundation in place. It is made of much stronger stuff than I could build it with. That foundation is a God who is good but not safe and the words of Scripture he has given. So even as I wobble and shake I’ll rest in knowing that God has many more good gifts in store for me and my family. They just might look different than we thought.
So for now, I’m just going to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Praying that God would open the door to the chaplaincy and if he chooses not to do that then to make the path clear for my family and I.