I happen to enjoy feeling secure. The last thing I do before falling into bed every night is check that the door on our attached garage is closed. Doors with locks are a great invention. So are seatbelts and computer passwords and childproof caps and rails on camp bunk beds that someone was smart enough to add.
When I was a kid in grade school practicing safety drills for nuclear attack, we hid under our desks. I’m not sure how that little pine desk with a drawer in the middle would have protected me from intense radiation. But students today are probably wondering similar things when told, if there is an active shooter in the school, to lock the classroom door and climb under their desks.
Security is great; but what exactly does it mean in a world full of deep vulnerability? I have three thoughts on this today. First, we need to embrace the reality that a certain degree of vulnerability and impermanence are simply built into life. Things will happen we wish wouldn’t happen. Others who intend harm will hurt our kids in this world. Dresser drawers will have to be emptied out after the death of a best friend. A day will eventually come when you should turn over your car keys. No measure of exerting control will stop any of these forces.
Second, there is a little secret I’ve discovered about the word “secure.” It comes from the Latin roots se (without) and cura (care). To be secure is to be able to live carefree. It’s to know and enjoy a psychological and spiritual freedom even in the midst of circumstances we cannot control. Wise parents aim to raise secure children who don’t have to constantly watch their backsides, or fight for basic self-esteem, or wonder about their next meal. By the way, people who are food insecure never live carefree lives.
Third, one of the reasons I follow Jesus is because I take great comfort that he knew vulnerability from day one. Born in an unsanitary barn to an unwed mother, he would soon become a refugee, only later to become a subject of ridicule, mockery, and bruising wounds. This is the one who helps me get a grip on my fears. He doesn’t magically make me unafraid, or grant immunity from harm or danger. But he does bring a gift for not panicking – a peace that takes me by the hand and holds me when everything else feels up for grabs.
When I ponder the uncertainties of life, I realize that my job is get past the panic in order to feel the hand of God holding me fast. If I succeed in my “job,” I discover the beauty of carefree living all over again. If I fail, I end up running and hiding under the nearest desk (or possession, or bank account, or false sense of control), none of which ever provide the deepest sense of security.