Each time September 11th rolls around, the same question is asked- Where were you? I know you’ve probably read a lot of somber stories of remembrance today, but this is a little different. This year, as it landed in the middle of my Yes journey with P31 Online Bible Studies, I saw it through a different lens.
My story is pretty much the same as every one else’s my age; I was only in the 4th grade, after all. I remember another teacher interrupting class to speak with ours in private. She returned, on the verge of tears, and summarized the events, nervously twirling the spirals that framed her face. “A plane hit a building in New York City. You’ll have to ask your parents about the rest.” Our school was immediately put on a code red lockdown, and while I was unnerved, I was more focused on being jealous of the 5th graders, who got to watch the events unfold on the news.
My 9 year old brain, only able to process the details it had been given, didn’t understand what the big deal was. I remember thinking, accidents happen all the time. What makes this different?
It wasn’t until I saw the scarring images on the news that I began to understand. Families without parents, children without futures, a country without answers, a people without trust.
Before that day, I had been safe. Safe in my routine, my circumstances, and the arms of my loved ones. I began to realize for the first time that not everything and everyone in the world would keep me that way, not even if they wanted to. It was terrifying.
I have strived for safety my whole life. I have always stopped at yellow lights, called to check on loved ones, and followed the rules. While I thought this would add to my peace, it always takes away because I cannot be in control.
We cannot wait until we feel safe to say Yes to God. And, reversely, we cannot say Yes to God in hopes that it will make us feel safe. If God were in the business of keeping us safe, we wouldn’t feel the need to seek Him. Nowhere in the Bible does He promise our families will be safe. At least, not by the world’s standards. It seems a little harsh, doesn’t it?
I’ve always had a little bitterness about this, but recently, I’ve been challenged. In my experience, if God loves me, He should protect me and those I love. And while many times He works this way, sometimes it’s not His plan. The default response to these situations is always, “God has something better planned,” but I’m guilty of not believing it.
I’m slowly transitioning from a rule-following Christian to a grace-chasing one. In the recent encounters I’ve had with God, He’s been such a warm, whimsical figure who excitedly says, “Just.watch.this.” Now that I know Him, I’m starting to realize the whole idea of being safe is just a cheap illusion of control. My thought processes that revolve around His seeming obligation to protect me are just as harmful as the things I’m hiding from. I’ve got to rise above the world’s expectations to experience a God without limitations, abounding in love and get a glimpse from His perspective.
I must rest in what is true. If I am covered in Christ, I no longer have to devise my own shelter, escape routes, or back-up plans. If I am really looking for something to save my life, I need to stop asking for God to keep me safe and begin asking that He bring me closer to Him.