Rain is exciting to all of us at first. I don’t remember my first rainstorm, but I’m pretty willing to guess that I ran, danced, jumped and was overall enthralled with water coming for the sky. Imagine how those who had mocked Noah felt at the first sight of water from above. As I’ve grown, I still enjoy rain, although it can be an encumbrance sometimes—I don’t like the tips of my toes being wet, and I find umbrellas hazardous and unnecessary.
But rain is not just about wonder and little aggravations trickling down; rain can be downright dangerous. Recently in the Los Angeles area, we had one storm that was the talk of the town for three weeks. In this particular rainstorm, about 2,000 accidents were recorded in the Los Angeles area alone. I, too, have had my fair share of unsafe rainy days. I’ve nearly hit cars and slid into intersections, and I once almost careened off a bridge that rises perilously above the freeway. Now that you never want to ride in my car again, I must say that these are probably exaggerations of minor incidents, with my nerves and the rain bringing me to panic. Perhaps you, too, can attest to our uneasiness in dealing with rain. The world can: Flash floods ravage many countries on an annual basis.
If we kept looking at the destruction, the danger and the perils of rain, we might become misled. We might begin to ask why we should allow rain at all? How can rain, that which produces life, freshness and renewal, be so scary, erratic, unsafe? How can the giver of life be so dangerous? But this sounds like another question. Is the Giver of Life a safe God, or is He wild, unpredictable and dangerous?
The quality read, Your God is Too Safe, by Mark Buchanan, has revealed to me what Scripture attests to: God demands wild obedience. The book points to C.S. Lewis’ profound statement about God in the Narnia Chronicles. When the children ask whether Aslan is safe, being the lion that he is, they are given the simple reply, “Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” God’s not busy providing steady bank accounts, Volvos with driver, passenger and side airbags or an unwavering stock market. God’s main business is His appetite for His glory and His desire to make us holy. There can be nothing safe in doing this, and the safe god that we’ve replaced the true God with cannot comfort, change or renew us—only God can.
I am reminded of the testimony of a missionary to Vietnam named Charlie Long. Charlie was contemplating the idea of returning to Vietnam even though the Vietnam War was beginning to spread across the torn nation, and danger was readily apparent. There was obviously nothing safe about the situation. Most of us would say, “God is not in that”; “He’s closed that door for now”; “We’ll return when God calls us back.” Charlie was struggling with these same rationalizations himself. It was during his contemplation while still in the United States that he found himself hanging upside down with his car on its roof in a snow bank on the side of Midwest interstate. He could have died in that accident or frozen to death in that chilly night, but he was saved by God’s grace alone. Charlie realized, as we should, that God no safer in the United States than He is in a war-torn country.
What does this mean for us? That we should live in paralyzed fear of a dangerous Ruler? Heavens no—not paralysis, but true fear. In realizing that God is not safe, we can realize how good He truly is. We can realize that He is calling us out of our mundane bondage of sin and blindness and into the holy wild where truth resides. We can realize that He is calling us out of a land of fear with a safe god to a land of assurance in a God who is not safe, but who is the greatest Good. If we “being evil, know how to give good gifts to [our] children, how much more will [our] Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). How much more good will come from the unsafe God who loves than the petty god who is safe?
Tyler Watts is a student at California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., and a servant of the most high God, the mighty Lord, Creator of all and Redeemer of the world.
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