Right, so, this is crazy late, I realize. I had half a post all set up and then went and had an absolutely ridiculous weekend that involved, among other things, my car breaking down in a different state than the one in which I live and me almost getting squashed by a semi and having to call friends to help me out.
I’m okay. I’m just saying, it’s been intense. So this is hella late. Think of it less like I completely missed last week and more like this is a Spiritual Implications two-for-one post sale this week. Bogo, y’all.
Many of my friends will exasperatedly tell you that I don’t have a good nose for danger. It’s not that I’m stupid or even unobservant; I just don’t think about consequences properly (and I’m crazy stubborn) before I barge into all manner of situations that are Pretty Bad Ideas in retrospect. Most of the time these are moments of physical danger in that I’ll put myself in a place where my bodily well-being is at risk. Sometimes it’s emotional danger, when I am around people or events that threaten my psychological balance. And, while some would scoff at the possibility, I’ve even been in spiritual danger, placing my soul in compromised situations. The friend who rescued me by driving up yesterday to retrieve me from the shop where my car is (and yes, it totally feels like I’m missing a piece of myself to have it be seventy miles away) has informed me there will be so much yelling for my having gone off and taken a road trip with a car I knew was in poor condition. I’m pretty sure I also freak Interpreter out a lot with how many times I cheat death in the choices I make. The excuse “it’s worked so far” will only hold so long, I realize.
My courting of danger is actually hilarious because I am in no way a thrill-seeker by nature. I’m actually pretty cautious and I don’t do things that are deliberately meant to raise chemical levels of danger (Will Robinson) response (roller coasters, bungee jumping, skydiving, etc.—count me the eff out). But I decide quite often that I need to do something or get somewhere and damned be whatever gets in my way, including safety and sanity. I don’t recommend it as a life strategy. It irks your friends.
But that concept of danger is such a weird thing, and actually an appropriate Lenten topic—after all, the Adversary took Jesus to the top of the Temple and told Him to jump, daring Him to cheat danger on the idea that safety was certain. The kind of danger I court is ill-advised, for sure. And the kind of danger the world provides is awful; my heart grieves for London. But there’s a certain kind of danger in being faithful that we are asked to walk into knowingly: a danger to who we are.
I realize that sounds like the set-up for some terrible pun (are you a pilot? Because we’re about to enter the danger zone) or pick-up line or something, but I don’t mean it that way. I’m quite serious; faith should challenge your notions of who you and the people around you are. It should be a dangerous undertaking, not to our physical selves but to our selfishness, our ideas of self-preservation, our priorities. Jesus tells people to take up a cross, for crying out loud. Those kill people.
The difference is that in the kind of danger that I find myself in involving sketchy motels in nowhere towns on dark and rainy nights there is no bedrock guarantee of safety. When Jesus asks us to stretch, to risk, to grow and change and Go Forth into the world, we don’t do it alone. We step out in the faith that God will not ask us to do something that will completely and irrevocably fuck us up, because sadistic god is not a god I want anything to do with. This is not to say that we should just go with whatever we feel is being asked of us; after all, the Adversary was quoting Scripture when he told Jesus to trust that angels would catch Him. We have to be wise as serpents in the world because it is indeed a dangerous place. But that, too, is part of the faith life: learning what God’s voice sounds like and how it differs from the sounds that try to drag you into that which is truly and alarmingly dangerous.
Stay safe, Reader, but not so safe that you can’t act in the many ways God can use you. And don’t mess with semis. They are not kidding around.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, AKJV)