“Safe Place. Who Me?”
When I think about a safe, peaceful place, I think about where my husband and I go. Ever since our honeymoon, we try to make it back to Fort Bragg at least once a year. We have a “dog friendly” place that puts up with our four legged family members and us. It is secluded and it is SAFE. Safe… it is so important to feel safe. I am not at “peace” if I do not feel safe. I can remember times in my life where I didn’t feel so safe. I can remember people that were in my life that were not “safe”. As Christians, if we are going to effectively minister to others; if we are going to be able to shine our lights brightly, we have to be SAFE PEOPLE ourselves. We need to be a sanctuary for those God puts in our lives. When I think of the subject of being that safe place for others, I am reminded of a story (of course):
Before I tell this story, I want to make sure you are aware that I used to be in Law Enforcement. I have served as a Probation Officer and as a Law Enforcement Chaplain. So, I have nothing but the most respect and appreciation for those who serve. This true story has to do with a Deputy Sheriff who tried to use his “authority” for his own purposes. Many years ago, at dusk, we heard a loud knock at the front door of our rural TC center. It was a deputy sheriff in full uniform. Immediately, the students scurried to see what they could see because it was unusual to have a member of law enforcement come to the center – especially that late in the day. I introduced myself and asked the officer if I could help him. He quickly told me that his dog had a raccoon treed on our property and he was going to shoot him. I told the deputy we did not allow hunting on our property. He retorted, “I am a deputy and I am going to shoot that raccoon.” I responded back with, “No, we don’t allow hunting on our property.” He snapped back, including a number of profanities that I will leave out, “I am a deputy sheriff and I am going to shoot that raccoon.” I then asked him, “Do you have a warrant for his arrest.” He stomped off. The raccoon was safe.
So why tell my raccoon story? That raccoon was running for its little furry life! It needed a place where literally the hounds of hell could not reach it. It also needed a “champion” – someone who would stand up and say, “No, you cannot have this one.” If I am going to be an effective witness, I need to be the type of Christian that people can run to when the hounds of hell are snapping at their feet. They need to know they are unconditionally loved; never judged; and that any “counsel” given will be truth straight from the Word of God. They need to know that I will stand in the gap for them – standing by falling on my face before God, interceding on their behalf. They need to know that no matter how busy I am, they are more important than the “stuff” I need to accomplish. They need to know that forgiveness reigns – even if their offense has been against me! I need to be willing to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me!
I want to pause on this last point: FORGIVENESS! One of the things that make a person the most “unsafe” is un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness leads to bitterness, increased anger to the point of rage, prejudice, disloyalty, distrust, isolation, and all types of negative speech. Often when we see people with a “chip” on their shoulders, it is because they are hanging onto some old hurt. People with forgiveness issues have a very hard time being “safe” for others. Think about people who have been horribly hurt by a divorce; and they just do not want to forgive. If they get into another relationship, they will view their new spouse through warped lenses of anger and distrust. Their new relationship will have two strikes against it right from the beginning!
So as safe people….
- We must first ask ourselves, “How am I doing spiritually?” We must realize that we are just conduits, a person’s help is from the Lord. It is He who gives us wisdom to help anyone. We need to make sure we are plugged in tight to the Lord ourselves.
- We must be spiritually, emotionally, and physically (by making time) available. If we are going to be effective, we need to be void of as many distractions as possible.
- We must be those who are aware of our own “issues” so that we do not allow them to cloud how we treat those who are coming to us for help.
- We must be willing and able to apply our Christian tools to their situation: counsel grounded in the pure truth of the Word of God; prayerful intercession – seeking God’s counsel through the power of the Holy Spirit, always praying for discernment.
- We, ourselves, must have good boundaries. Safe people are not those who enter into co-dependent relationships. Personal responsibility is the key to spiritual, emotional and even physical health.
- We must be those who speak the truth in love. After getting the plank out of our own eyes, we then can help someone address the speck in theirs.
- We must be time sensitive. There is a time to and a time not to deal with things. A “rushed” word, given on the fly, can end up being a very destructive word.
I am thankful for the awesome “safe” people who have helped me in my Christian walk. I so want to be that for others. How about you? May God help us to be “trees of righteousness” that someone can safely run to when they are being chased by those devilish hounds: hounds of pain, of hurt, of addiction, of failure, of rejection – just to name just a few. May God use us to be there for them when these destructive issues dog their lives.