We’ve all had a long hard couple of years. When uncertainty and fear dominate the public discourse, people tend to reduce their conversations to platitudes as a way to spoon-feed each other verbal comfort food. That’s not to say that platitudes don’t have their time and place (to soothe those in mourning, for instance), but the continued overuse of phrases like “Be safe!” has me screaming into the crook of my arm rather than sneezing into it.
I don’t even know what “be safe” means.
I get that people don’t want to get sick. No-one in their right mind wants to be sick. But what am I supposed to do when people constantly bray at me to “be safe”? What precisely is it that they want me to do or not to do?
I’ve scoured scripture for a phrase that is similar in meaning to “be safe”, but I’ve found nothing. The notion of moving through life with safety as a top priority doesn’t exist in the Bible. It certainly didn’t exist for Jesus during his time on Earth. Jesus was all about faith, which is generally the opposite of being safe. Faith, by its very nature, requires taking risks. Following Jesus requires taking risks. People used to exhort each other to “Go with God” in faith and boldness, knowing that being a believer in an unbelieving world implied danger right out of the gate. We were to face the danger head-on and deal with it by the help of God’s Holy Spirit, not run and hide from the bogeyman.
When we tell each other to “be safe” and prioritize safety over every other mode of being, we shut down that very thing that makes us alive – our innate desire to grow, expand our reach, and explore. We shroud ourselves in a dark heavy pall that muffles the sounds around us and restricts our vision. We can barely move from the weight of other people’s fears. It reminds me of David when he was being readied to fight Goliath. He was decked head to toe in heavy armour that was so cumbersome he could barely move. So he decided to throw it all off and go into battle armed only with a sling and a few stones. I doubt that as he stood facing Goliath, David was thinking about being safe. I think the notion of being safe was the farthest thing from his mind.
No-one conquers anything by prioritizing safety.
And there’s the crux of the matter – when you make safety a priority, you leave no room for the more noble human attributes of courage, self-sacrifice, fearlessness, and “get ‘er done”, the latter of which is my favourite of all human attributes and once upon a time characterized the region I grew up in.
Jesus was King of get ‘er done. Nothing swayed him from his mission. If there was a storm, he stilled it. If the sick thronged him, he healed them. If his enemies surrounded him, he calmly maneuvered through them and prayed for them on his way out. He didn’t run and hide to “be safe”; he didn’t avoid conflict to “be safe”. Where others cowered in fear against the demon-possessed chain-busting man in the cemetery, Jesus walked up to him, exorcised him, and then clothed and spent time with him. There was nothing that the world threw at him that Jesus didn’t simply respond to with “let’s get ‘er done”, including his crucifixion. If God puts a challenge in your path, he will surely help you through it. Jesus knew that, and we need to know that, too.
So I propose that we replace “be safe!” with “get ‘er done!”. I propose that instead of being afraid of everyone around us, we walk among them the way Jesus walked among the crowds, undeterred by their close proximity. I propose that instead of relying on the world for guidance, we rely on God, modeling our choices on the choices Jesus made during his time on Earth.
I propose that we face the world fearlessly, aware of its dangers, but choosing to be bold rather than cautious. We can be bold because we know that God has our back, and that whatever challenges he permits to come against us, he’ll help us to overcome, one way or another.
I propose prioritizing faith over being safe.
I propose prioritizing living life the way God intended us to live it – the way Jesus lived it.
I propose throwing off the shackles of “be safe” and moving forward in the spirit of “get ‘er done!”
And I propose we start doing that today – here and now – and continue doing it until the day we die.
Let’s get ‘er done!