Several from Seventh Day Baptist Conference went to Africa recently. This was written as a result.
Clinton R. Brown
A couple weeks ago I was getting my hair cut at our downtown barbershop in Westerly, RI. I had opted for my usual barber and was having one of our normal conversations about travel, missions, and following Jesus in different cultures. Suddenly, the barber at the neighboring chair piped in, “Where are you going? Mozambique? Is that really safe?!?” Surprised, that he was even listening to us, I answered hastily something about it was not necessarily safe in many places that I went, but the people I am generally visiting are interested in keeping me alive and well. So I have a higher degree of confidence in my well-being than many might in those regions.
Later, I reflected on how his question demonstrates a lot of our perspectives when making decisions about doing what God calls us to do. It makes sense to me that in this world with twenty-four hour access to news and entertainment about war, disease, crime, natural disasters, and terrorism, that we become preoccupied with our safety. We are reminded all the time that this world is truly not a safe place, and has not been since Eden. Living has been a terminal condition for pretty much everyone who has come before us. Also, our default setting seems to be positioned towards self-preservation, so it is not surprising that when we consider our actions, our first inclination is to heavily load the scales of our choices away from danger.
The problem with that attitude is, as new creations in Christ Jesus, we are instructed to not worry or be concerned with the troubles of this world. We are called to have a peace that is beyond this world’s understanding. Our choices are to be skewed towards sacrifice and love for others — not the love of our own flesh. God is to be the source of our confidence. We are to be cognizant, through constant communion with Him, that He is there to guide and protect us because He loves us as a good father loves his little children.
As it turned out, this weekend our pastor pointed out that the passage of scripture in Matthew 11 regarding taking on Jesus’ yoke followed several instances in scripture of people being confused or fearful. He noted that if we are yoked with Jesus, we have Christ both guiding our direction and sharing the burden with us. Therefore, walking with Him should give us a great sense of security regardless of the road ahead or struggles we face.
“I am more afraid of living a life where I am not being obedient to God’s call, (and) the danger of turning my back to Him and living in an illusion of security where I am responsible for protecting myself alone.”
As usually happens, as soon as I left the barbershop, the response I wished I had said came to mind. Though it is probably roughly a quote from some missionary or minister that I cannot identify at this time, it really fit what I was feeling. I wanted to rewind and say to him, “I am more afraid of living a life where I am not being obedient to God’s call, (and) the danger of turning my back to Him and living in an illusion of security where I am responsible for protecting myself alone.” Now that I am beginning to understand who is ultimately in charge of this world, I am simply not brave enough to reject Him and try to cling to and protect this temporary life on my own. This does not mean I will never get concerned or will not find myself clinging to the life I have placed back into His hands. To quote 2 Timothy 1:12 and the Daniel Whittle hymn, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Or at least with the Holy Spirit’s help we can strive for minds and hearts that flow in that direction.