Is God Safe?

By Michael Gallup

Every Sunday night I meet with a bunch of losers and rejects and it is beautiful. Each week I hear stories of alcoholic fathers, failed marriages, premature family deaths, depression, suicide, abandonment, and so on. Each of us has deep wounds and have grown tired of easy answers to our tough questions. But in our woundedness we have found a safe place to land, to crash together and in this safety a desire to let others find safety amongst us has taken seed. So we wonder together what it means to be a “safe” place.

At the heart of this question lies a hunger inside everyone of us for safety and security. Yet this hunger is often malnourished by the fast food of safety. We run from our problems, insulating ourselves from the world’s brokenness and especially our own. We take control into our own hands and believe ourselves capable of protecting ourselves. We move to the suburbs, get life insurance, and create a systemized theology that tames our God and puts him into a nice, neat box that we can control. Yet even when we have mastered our lives, we still deep-down lack a true feeling of safety.

But what does it really mean to be safe? If we are to be safe, mustn’t we be safe like God is safe? The bible speaks of God as our fortress, our shepherd. Jesus promised his follows peace and joy, telling them his burden was light. But the scriptures also teach us that the fear of God is the first step in wisdom, that we should be terrified at the thought of falling into his hands. Jesus teaches his followers that if they want to be his disciples they must pick up their cross, in other words, they will die if they follow him. And God tells Moses, his friend, that no one can see Him and live. Can we truly find refuge, safety in the presence of a God who will kill us? I think so.

The safety of God is something all together different from what our American Dream teach us. If we truly seek refuge in him, than we will find safety from our greatest foe: ourselves. It is only in the death of ourselves that we can truly be safe and truly live. It is only when God defeats us that we can have any victory. Safety is not the avoidance of trouble, pain, and death but the facing of it. Safety is the facing of it with the God who is scarier than all our fears. It is in the dying that we come to life. In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the kids are asking about Aslan, the Christ-like lion who rules the land of Narnia. Rightfully so, they are a bit worried about fraternizing with a lion and ask if he is safe. To which Mr. Beaver replies, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

And so we find ourselves seeking safety in a very unsafe God. If we fall into his hands, we will surely die but by God, that’s the very thing we need. Following God, truly embracing His Kingdom call to walk in his resurrection life, means that success, happiness, and confidence will no longer nurse our infantile understandings of life. It is only in God’s defeat of us that we realize that blessing is not something we can grasp or win by talent, force or will but is only available through a gift. It is only in helplessness, when we let go of control, that we will find ourselves in the secure arms of the Father and know that they are good. He is the King, I tell you.

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7 responses to “Is God Safe?

  1. Georgie-ann

    I liked the music a lot!,… when I could get it. VERY VERY NICE, but it doesn’t always show up as an option.

    I’ve been mulling this one over for awhile, my first thought being how much everyone just LOVES the idea of dying (to oneself or finally),…of course,…not. I’ve never tried to picture that as a “selling point” to potential questioners and followers before.

    Usually, I like to frame the good/great things about God as the drawing points, while working in some of the collateral conditions and effects — (or “feared personal damage,” if you will) — as necessary, but actually also VERY BENEFICIAL, parts of the overall fabulous process of getting closer to God. In other words, “you’re gonna get/find so waaaay much more ‘in God’ than you’ve ever had ‘in you,’ that the pluses will waaaay outweigh the minuses — it’s a promise!” A promise that God can and will keep. Even if ALL the people fail, God will keep His part of the bargain. (And usually, ALL of the people do not completely fail, either,…just sayin’,…)

    Usually the urgent seekers — the folks who are potentially looking for that “SOMETHING MORE” that regular life on its own terms has not managed to provide — have already been through enough disappointment and disillusionment: with the vagaries of accidental happenings, empty and failed promises, treachery in “low places” (i.e., mankind in general), and never being able to live up to the hyped and pandered images broadcast in all their glossy glory, titillating the vain imaginations of the insecure “wannabes” that we all can be from time to time, in one way or another.

    Ah, yes,…”the human condition,”…the frustrating “human condition,”…it is very much “with us,”…like,…ALL the time. AND, there is “no way out,”….except God. But, actually, THAT’S THE WHOLE IDEA!!! It is inevitable that “this life,” by itself, will NOT satisfy us — no way, no how. That’s just how it is. If someone told you something else, they were “selling you a bill of goods” — (a bill of goods that they may have bought into, but they were lying, whether they knew they were or not). You can’t redeem that one on its own terms.

    And so, that is why God had to “make His own arrangements” to redeem us Himself,…because of Love — the main ingredient that “the world” has TRULY none of. And I do mean NONE — of the real, generous, everlasting, self-sacrificing, other-blessing kind of Love that we all crave. We’re created to run well on that high-octane kind of Love that affirms and “keeps on giving.” It should be pretty obvious that humans just cannot provide this for other humans, without God’s input into the equation.

    John 12:24,25

    24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

    Well, those were Jesus’s words, as He prepared for the Cross. He also said:

    Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]”

    The powerful essence of God is a Lover and a Giver. He’s the Best Healer and Doctor ever! If you surrender yourself to Him and His Words and His Life within you, sure, you can expect some changes,…in fact, you probably should HOPE for some!

    The surgery God can do for us (for our souls), to remove our pains and hurts and wrong-inclinations, and to heal with the “Balm of Gilead,” is beyond compare, but it does come with a price. Not only our surrender and exposure and honesty with Him — (it’s ok,…He already knows everything, so why should we hide?) — but we need to draw close in prayer, and saturate ourselves in trust with His Words and blessed presence.

    These blessings are already “worth the price of admission,” but we find SO MUCH MORE. “You can’t outgive God,” is a saying that I find to be more and more True, as I go along.

    Jeremiah 8:22 “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people restored? [Because Zion no longer enjoyed the presence of the Great Physician!]”

    But, Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet. Jesus has intervened on our behalf since then. We can rejoice, and we should partake!

    “If we truly seek refuge in him, than we will find safety from our greatest foe: ourselves.” Good words! Ain’t that the truth! (-:

  2. Gorgie-ann, I loved how you shared the seemingly contradictory passages about Jesus’ yoke being light, offering rest and also the cost of the cross we must carry as his followers. It reminds me of this Frederick Buechner quote: “Power, success, happiness, as the world knows them, are his who will fight for them hard enough; but peace, love, joy are only from God. And God is the enemy whom Jacob fought there by the river, of course, and whom in one way or another we all of us fight – God, the beloved enemy. Our enemy because, before giving us everything, he demands of us everything; before giving us life, he demands our lives – our selves, our wills, our treasure.”

    Your description of love was lovely, almost radical in comparison to how our culture (and often myself) defines it. Thanks again for the wealthy reply, it is much appreciated.

  3. Georgie-ann

    I had to think awhile on that one. I am firmly convinced that all appearances of “contradictions” in God, will be resolved by a correct understanding of the dynamics involved, which implies the WHOLE VERY BIG TIMELESS PICTURE. This is, of course, “beyond our ken” (power to know), but if we intentionally look beyond narrow frameworks, judgments, and definitions — no matter how conventionally accepted and applied — it is possible to glimpse larger fields of interactions and connections, where the apparent contradictions resolve themselves quite easily. “God is not the author of confusion …” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

    As you might have guessed by now, I have more than a few favorites in this regard. (I have spent time backing-up the concepts with scriptures in past writings, but probably will not do that tonight, as it is time-consuming, unless I think I am mentioning something completely new to the discussion.)

    “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job) Ya gotta love that one.

    God is NOT double-minded, capricious, temperamental and unpredictable. God should ONLY be scary to His enemies, because that’s to whom He shows His warring face. (Revelation) But, He tells us that He calls US “His friends.”
    John 15:15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

    Here’s a good one:
    Matthew 5:30 “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

    Well, what I have to say about that is: “… and most likely, you won’t be able to cut it off, but if you sincerely offer the intention to God, He will be able to find a way to do so for you,…I don’t say the process will be particularly pleasant, but in the end, it will get the job done, and the results will be very much ‘worth it.’ ” (More proof of how much God loves us!)

    I see this as a reference to issues that are somehow so deeply connected to our fallen nature and stubborn and bound will, that we really desperately NEED God’s help to become free/released from bondage to behavior and attitude patterns that persistently refuse to submit to prayer and will-power efforts for change. If we sincerely offer/surrender this nature to God, and ask Him for help to change, He has ways (some rather mysteriously orchestrated at times) to bring this about, and in no uncertain terms. Usually we will still be wearing our right hand in its usual place, after this is “all over,” but the human “inside,” using it will have become radically changed, so it’s “no problem” any more. Just one more example of how “what is impossible for man, is possible for God.”

    Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ”

    I have thought about Jacob wrestling with “the angel.”

    Genesis 32:24-30 (excerpted)

    24 “And Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until daybreak. …

    26 ” … He said, ‘Let Me go, for day is breaking.’ But [Jacob] said, ‘I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me.’ …

    28 “And He said, ‘Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.”

    29 ” … And [the Angel of God declared] a blessing on [Jacob] there.

    30 “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [the face of God], saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared and not snatched away.’ ”

    You can’t fool God, (“God is not mocked”). …

    Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap.”

    … and lip service and being half-hearted, and blurring the issues, will get you nowhere with Him. “The Truth will set us free.” To win with God, we must clearly acknowledge and separate the issues at hand. Spiritual things, “gotten right” in spiritual warfare (like Jacob), work as clearly and definitely as any electrical circuit. We will have to apply ourselves to remove the static, short-circuits, and false wiring — remembering that we do have an enemy, working both from within and without, to hinder our every move towards God — but eventually, as we align ourselves correctly with God and His Will and purposes, and hold on to “the prize,” we will also find our position of Victory in Him.

    It’s a worthy challenge, to “fight the good fight of faith.”

    1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

    2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

    Not only is God worth the effort, but the alternatives are devastating.

  4. Georgie-ann

    I guess it’s obvious, — (but sometimes we “miss” the significance of things/conditions that are SO obvious, that we just take them completely “for granted,” never envisioning the possibility of change) — but we are very “attached” to our own natural “selves,” our own ways, the way we see and feel and interpret things, the way we came, how we hold on to and are identified with certain things, our group. Nations fight nations over bitter self-centered issues and personal mutually-resistant conflicts, such as these.

    God wishes to lift us out of our fixed (stubborn) conditions and inclinations, and give us MORE personal freedom actually, buy expanding our limited and partial, (and usually sinful and demanding), fleshly conditions, that we are more or less “slavishly” bound to. This, by adding/connecting a very different spiritual nature (our new, reborn nature in God) to our very limited and limiting initial repertoire.

    Our “natural man,” unless already well-disillusioned with “how things have been going,” welcomes the idea of this kind of change about as eagerly as a dog wants to give up the old, moldy bone he has been chewing on for days.

    Locked into dangerous behavior patterns, without a compass, not knowing good from evil, mankind — under satan’s co-opted far-reaching influence and infiltration — became a disgrace and scourge on the face of the earth. One huge annihilating/purging Flood to bring about a chance for a new beginning, followed later by the giving of the Law as “a revelatory teacher” to a selected few, God moved to prepare and set the stage for an even better possibility than heretofore: The arrival of His (pure and innocent) Son in flesh, to absorb the sting of the curse (bear the burden, pay the price, the ransom), and “to draw all men unto Himself.”

    John 12:31-33

    31 “Now the judgment (crisis) of this world is coming on [sentence is now being passed on this world]. Now the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world shall be cast out (expelled).

    32 “And I, if and when I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], will draw and attract all men [Gentiles as well as Jews] to Myself.

    33 “He said this to signify in what manner He would die.”

    This, of course, was the great “turning point,” the opening of a new and better opportunity for mankind. But it is an opportunity that must be accepted and received by true desire into and upon one’s fleshly and limited personal prison and circumstances. There is tragedy, in that many seem to prefer to cling to their own habitual personal “filthy rags,” finding their comfort in concealing “darkness,” prisoners of their fear “of the Light,” slaves of satan’s pretentious claims, threats and false promises.

    But for many, this becomes the Golden Opportunity, the Saving Grace of rescue, the Opened Door to freedom and expansion for which they were created. Blessed are those who receive and accept and co-operate with the benefits of “so great a Salvation” that is being offered to us.

  5. Georgie-ann

    The confusion that seems to be in people’s minds — (both the “saved” and “unsaved,” and God tells us that He is the only one who really knows and sees the hearts of men in this way, although we’ll possibly know some things by their “fruits”) — in which it seems to me that God is being accused of and “held responsible” for things that are clearly not His characteristics at all, is a very important issue to clarify.

    Otherwise, the endless colloquial arguments for and against “religion” and God just keep running around in circles, chasing their proverbial tails, biting and snapping at one another, perpetuating an endless and unsolvable frenzy from which there is neither an escape, nor any real possible answers — such as: this religion vs. that one, / how can I believe when (xyz)…? / if God is supposed to be good, why (xyz)? / and all the rationales where God is so anthropomorphized (made in man’s image), as to become unrecognizable as the Creator and sustainer of the Whole Universe.

    There can be no appropriate answers, when the fundamental set-up of data and information framing the questions is both skewed and incomplete. And who is usually more or less left out of the examination of God’s character, as if being some kind of irrelevant figment of weird peoples’ imaginations? Why, the fundamental accuser and mental manipulator himself, satan, of course.

    I can well understand why God found it so important to explain and portray His immutable nature and character in the Old Testament, and further refine this and His relationship to us in the New Testament. Hearing all the types of clap-trap that are thrown around these days — as if the person speaking or writing were some kind of authority, or in a very special position so as to actually “know” such things — one is left with an impression of these nay-sayers and declarers, as not only possessing an inclination to pompous stupidity and un-insightful gullibility, but rank argumentativeness and downright cheesy complaining as well,…and (satan’s master-minded triumph),…CONFUSION.

    So,…man feels entitled to complain “on his own terms.” This is certainly nothing new. Man views the Grand Universe from his tiny position therein, and makes grand proclamations from off the top of his pea-brained head, and from his vulnerability to satan’s hinted suggestions. Rebellion ensues, and chaos, and lawlessness — the downward spiral is in motion. God is accused, blamed, found wanting, tried and hung as non-existent, or worse than useless.

    The marvel is that as unhappy and frustrated as these kinds of people are, they have absolutely no tolerance for any alternatives, — even and especially, the real Truth.

    If we, ourselves, compromise the real Truth about God, we will be living our own lives with a compromised result. It is possible to “seek and find” Good, Better, and Best in terms of our lives in relationship to God, how much He can do for us, and how much we can do for Him.

    The effect of confusion is to mix “a little bit of satan” in with our concepts of God, and this will in no way be any kind of beneficial thing for us. It doesn’t mean that God will abandon us. He knows and understands very well the milieu we live in, but it will enable satan and his minions to block some of the “sunlight” and blessing that God would like to offer us.

    This is the reason that I like to keep studying and focusing on what God says about Himself in the Whole scope of His Word, and why I always emphasize that “God is not the author of confusion,” and that it is “The Truth (God’s, that) will set us free,” which is the main crux of all spiritual issues.

    This is how God’s Word characterizes the mortal enemy of our soul:

    John 8:44 “You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false.”

    These false things and “suggestions” have become a very pervasive and wide-spread influence in our times. The poor defenseless children born into this mess, will be hard-pressed not to accept parts of it as some kind of version of “normal.” It is now more important than ever to recognize, avoid and expose these poisonous lies and their effects on mankind at all costs.

  6. Georgie-ann

    Two more (famous) quotes re: the enemy of our soul:
    (followed by the context)

    John 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. …”

    1 Peter 5:8 “Be … vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”

    ******* ******* *******

    (context for John 10:10) John 10:7-18
    7 “So Jesus said again, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that I Myself am the Door for the sheep.

    8 “All others who came [as such] before Me are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not listen to and obey them.

    9 “I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture.

    10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

    11 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep.

    12 “But the hired servant (he who merely serves for wages) who is neither the shepherd nor the owner of the sheep, when he sees the wolf coming, deserts the flock and runs away. And the wolf chases and snatches them and scatters [the flock].

    13 “Now the hireling flees because he merely serves for wages and is not himself concerned about the sheep [cares nothing for them].

    14 “I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me–

    15 “Even as [truly as] the Father knows Me and I also know the Father–and I am giving My [very own] life and laying it down on behalf of the sheep.

    16 “And I have other sheep [beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring and impel those also; and they will listen to My voice and heed My call, and so there will be [they will become] one flock under one Shepherd.

    17 “For this [reason] the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life–to take it back again.

    18 “No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily. [I put it from Myself.] I am authorized and have power to lay it down (to resign it) and I am authorized and have power to take it back again. These are the instructions (orders) which I have received [as My charge] from My Father.”

    ******* ******* *******

    (context for 1 Peter 5:8) 1 Peter 5:5-11

    5 “Likewise, you who are younger and of lesser rank, be subject to the elders (the ministers and spiritual guides of the church)–[giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel]. Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)–[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble.

    6 “Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you,

    7 “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

    8 “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

    9 “Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset–rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.

    10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.

    11 “To Him be the dominion (power, authority, rule) forever and ever. Amen (so be it).”

    Amen.

  7. Gdog

    If you are looking for a bunch of rejects to eat with and share life with please let us know at gdanders05@yahoo.com Folks like Michael have brought a spiritual depth to our little club. Heretics and lost souls are encouraged to hang out with the rest of us – for info email me at gdanders05@yahoo.com

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