We’ve had some issues with safety in my neighborhood this Fall. Mostly attempted break-ins. Thankfully none have been successful or I probably would not be writing this. It has taken me a few weeks to collect my courage after one upsetting situation. Yet, when these incidents occur in my sleepy neighborhood of retired airforce veterans, it makes me think about my expectations, and even the things I take for granted.
When I was younger, 19 or so, I lived in Washington D.C. for a summer. Not yet equipped with city-smarts, I stopped at a department store enroute home from work. After my jaunt, I discovered that my commuter van was no longer running and I would be unable to take my usual way home, via the metro. It was after dark, I was downtown near F Street and determined I would need to ride the bus, commonly referred to as the chain-gang bus. Walking toward the bus stop I asked a lady for directions. She was dressed professionally, walking at a clip that didn’t invite conversation. She proceeded to lecture me within an inch of my life, “What was I doing here at this hour?” “Where was I going and why wasn’t I there?” “Walk like you mean it, and don’t talk to anyone.” She installed me on the bus, directly behind the driver’s seat, and gave him instructions about my destination. I sat beside some of the grisliest men I’ve ever encountered. They didn’t want to chat either. The bus took me up 13th street, through the red light district, to my apartment, where my roommate took up where my guardian angel had left off. I obviously knew nothing about personal safety.
Years later, I remember landing in Panama City in 1994 and, again, being confronted with a different definition of ‘safety’. There’s no effective way to describe how it feels to walk in front of 50 or so Panamanian MPs armed with machine guns aimed at you. “Moi?”, I thought to myself, as I nabbed my bags and scurried on. Then, too, when returning from Africa and having landed in Atlanta, I will still wearing my completely rank missionary fatigues and I glimpsed the podium at the U.S. Customs gate bearing the seal for the Department of Defense. I burst into tears. How good it was to be on American soil! Whether I observed British Constables, the border patrol in Ecuador or simply passed the U.S. Consulate enroute to my destination, every adventure outside the U.S. has made me keenly aware of my personal freedoms here in the States.
Getting back to my neighborhood, the fellow rang my doorbell late at night, looking, for all the world, as though he was armed. I made it known that I was home but did not answer the door. He turned and walked away. There was no good reason for him to walk away, unless he saw something that I couldn’t see. We sometimes speak lightly about angelic protection but if you’ve ever seen an angel – or even sensed an angel – you are not reminded of Cupid with a bow and a naked bottom. We have an unbelievable arsonal of protection when we are in relationship with the one true God.
In the end, personal safety is no different in my home than it is anywhere else in the world. It’s not about having the right locks, lights or by installing an alarm system. It’s not about owning a dog, nor living in a state of vigilance, which will completely exhaust us. Living safely and still being peaceful at heart requires that my trust be placed in the One who watches over me. I must lean into Him, let myself need Him, and let Him cover me, guard me.
Psalm 91 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty… Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.”
Do you know the Father? More importantly, does He know you?