Tag Archives: Safe

Seemingly Safe Assumptions

Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.”
Exodus 5:22-23 (NRSVCE)

Wendy and I have, of late, participated in multiple conversations with others who are grieving. The grief being experienced is not the result of the death of a loved one, but rather the unexpected demise of seemingly safe assumptions.

Along this life journey, I have observed that I am constantly making seemingly safe assumptions about what the road up ahead is going to look like. When I was first married, I assumed my marital life would be “happily ever after,” until I found myself in the middle of a divorce. I raised our daughters never realizing that I assumed all sorts of things about what their education, careers, lives, and world-views would look like until they ended up looking much different in almost every way. I assumed I would go to college and get a college degree and successfully pursue my chosen career, but then I ended up in a job I never wanted nor expected. I have saved for retirement and look forward to many golden years traveling with Wendy and doting on our grandchildren, but I’ve witnessed, first-hand, the harsh realities of lives cut far short of that seemingly safe assumption.

In today’s chapter, our reluctant hero, Moses, obediently follows God’s call to return to Egypt. Moses and Aaron make their appeal asking Pharaoh to let the people go into the wilderness to make sacrifices to God. Instead, Pharaoh both refuses and places a heavier burden on his Hebrew slave labor. This leaves Moses stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is no sign of Pharaoh capitulating and Moses’ people are ticked off as they are forced to work harder to meet impossible quotas for which they will likely be beaten and punished.

As I read Moses’ complaint to God about the situation, I found myself remembering exactly what God said to Moses in the burning bush conversation:

“I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will perform in it; after that he will let you go.
Exodus 3:19-20

In the painful realities of the moment, Moses was quick to remember God’s promise to deliver his people and plunder the Egyptians. However, Moses conveniently forgot the part about Pharaoh’s obstinance and that it would take a process of wonders before Pharaoh would relent. Based on the power and wonders God had shown Moses back at the burning bush, Moses made a seemingly safe assumption that this whole deliverer gig had a quick turnaround.

I find myself this morning thinking about the many seemingly safe assumptions I made earlier in life. Never did I expect to find myself wading through my own moral failure, navigating divorce, life in a small town, remarriage, blended family, infertility, unexpected pregnancy, and spending my life in a career I’d never wanted but to which I was called and found myself perfectly suited to accomplish.

I can’t help but remember Jesus’ words:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

I have come to believe that any “seemingly safe assumption” about what my life, or the lives of my loved ones, will look like down the road is part of what Jesus is urging me to avoid. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I only know that “God promised to help me deal with whatever hard things come when the time comes.”

God, allow me the wisdom to give my entire attention to what you are doing in and through me this day, and the grace to entrust you with any and every tomorrow.

Want to Read More?

Simply click on the image above or click here to be taken to a page with a simple photo index to all posts from this series on Exodus.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Chapter-a-Day 1 Peter 3

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. 1 Peter 3:18a (NLT)

Wendy and I are sports fans. We follow our teams and enjoy watching them through the seasons. This means it’s been busy the past few weeks as baseball season is winding down, but football season is in full swing. The result is that we’re watching a lot of sports on television and the DVR is working overtime recording shows and movies that we likely won’t get to until after the fall classic.

Though we love watching many different sports, my love of baseball has grown over the years while my love of other sports has waned. There are a number of reasons for this. Baseball, more than any other sport, is a metaphor for life. It is a day-by-day journey that starts with the promise of life each spring and ends (especially for Cubs fans) with the harsh realities of death and disappointment each fall leaving hope of resurrection “next year.” Within the long journey there are highs and lows. Even the worst of teams pull together a few winning streaks and the best of teams are going to experience a host of disappointing losses. The best of the best hitters fail seven out of ten times at the plate. The greatest of pitchers give up a home run now and then.

While I love all these things about baseball, the one thing that I’ve come to appreciate most is the simple object of the game: making it home safely. It is the same objective that this wayfaring stranger has as I day-by-day walk my journey through this world of woe. You’ll even find it in the banner of my blog. It is the same way Peter summarizes the message of Jesus in today’s chapter: Jesus died on a cross and suffered as a sacrifice for ours sins once for all and did so in order to bring we sinners safely home.

Those who’ve walked with me for a long time have watched me hit a few home runs but have more often seen me strike out swinging. I’ve been hit by pitches and have stolen a few bases. I’ve also dropped some easy pop flies. Nevertheless, I get up early each morning with the promise that it’s a new day. I can’t do anything about yesterday’s bitter loss. I can only do my best in today’s game as I make my way toward the inevitable winter that slowly approaches.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 145

Aslan is on the loose. God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Psalm 145:3 (MSG)

I love the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (not as much as my wife, but I do love the stories). In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the four Pevensie children are in the enchanted land of Narnia at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. The Beavers are telling the children that the great lion, Aslan, is on the loose. The idea of an uncaged lion scares the children and they appropriately ask if Aslan is a "safe" lion, to which the Beaver replies, "he's not safe, but he's good."

I have always loved that description of God. God is not safe, but he is good. The psalmist proclaims that there are no boundaries to God's greatness and things without boundary are usually not safe. Something that is not caged is generally considered wild.

I contemplated that for a bit this morning. Lewis' allegory was apt. God is not safe. God is on the loose. I think we often, as human beings, try to place our own man-made limits on God. We create a cage in our hearts and minds where we think God will fit quite nicely. If we can put him in our mental and spiritual cage, then we create the deceptively false notion that God is somehow safe.

God, please destroy the cage I've built for you in my heart. Teach me of your boundless greatness.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and benjaminw

Facebook readers: some spacing and formatting issues occur when it auto imports from the original blog post.