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Why God is Not Our Safety Net

July 1, 2016

Have you been to a circus?

I know what you’re thinking, our lives can be a circus, but I’m talking about the three-ring kind.

I’ll never forget my first experience attending the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. My Uncle Joe and Aunt Janet took my cousins and me to this exciting event at Madison Square Garden in NYC. I’ll never forget it. Who cares that I got car sick on the way there (I may have thrown up down a sidewalk grate), because once inside, I was mesmerized. At the end I nearly dislocated my wrist waiving to the performers parading around the rings before their final exit stage left.

So why do we love the circus? The animal acts are cute, the clown acts are funny, but it’s the trapeze and tightrope acts that have us scooting to the edge of our seats.

Why do we watch?

Two words. Daring and dangerous.

But is it really all that dangerous? Maybe we can watch bodies flying through the air or balancing on dental floss, because it’s comforting for both them and us to know if the bough breaks and the cradle falls, the safety net lies waiting to catch them.

But here’s the thing about safety nets. They give a false sense of security. Though they are tangible and we can see them, safety nets can fail. They are designed by humans, manufactured by humans, assembled by humans, and erected by humans. Google it. They’re not a sure thing.

God is not our safety net. A safety net enables people. A safety net is something we depend on to catch us.

God doesn’t merely catch us, He carries us.

God is not our safety net. He is our refuge.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance describes it this way:

hope, place of refuge, shelter, trust

Or machceh {makh-seh’}; from chacah; a shelter (literally or figuratively) — hope, (place of) refuge, shelter, trust.

So what’s the difference between a safety net and a refuge?

According to Merriam-Webster, refuge comes from the Latin word refugium. Although this word is Latin, the term is not foreign to aquarium enthusiasts…

“A refugium is a ‘refuge” in the sense that while it shares the water of the main tank, it is somehow set off from the tank. A refugium is generally used to provide delicate species with safety, protecting them from the larger fish in the main tank.” (taken from: ratemyfishtank.com).

God’s refuge does that for us. We are set apart from the world while we are still in it. When we are weak we are strong in Him. We are safe and we are protected, and while God may allow us to free-fall at times, nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing.

We tend to trust a safety net because we can see it, but seeing is not always believing. Not everyone who saw the miracles of Jesus, believed. Not everyone who sees the miracles all around us, believe.

When we trust in a refuge we cannot see? That’s called faith.

What about hope and trust? We can hope a safety net won’t fail but we can’t totally trust it.

We have absolute hope God’s refuge won’t fail and we can put our total trust in Him.

While I don’t recommend intentionally walking a tightrope, life can happen that way sometimes. We look down and we don’t see a net and that can be scary. And sometimes we fall. But God has been holding our right hand the whole time. Whether we make it all the way across or fall flat somewhere in the middle, we are safe and it will be okay.

While God is not like a safety net we can see, God is a refuge that is guaranteed to envelop us.

So what would you choose? A safety net, or God’s faithful and loving refuge we can trust in with all and total certainty?

And those props, like umbrellas and balancing poles tightrope walkers use?

We have something better to keep us steady. The Holy Spirit.

God’s ways are higher than the high-wire. Keep walking straight ahead in faith and don’t look down.

Have you been walking the wire?  Share things you’ve learned along the way.

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.  Psalm 46:1-5