A couple months into lockdown, we agonized over our decision to remain in our host country as the number of covid-19 cases rose rapidly in the capital. At the same time, we were watching the news, unsettled at the events unfolding in our passport country. We knew our commitment to stay would result in ongoing isolation, shortages, and frustration at our inability to do what we came here to do. Our homeland offered no real hope for a better situation if we chose to return. There was no truly safe place to retreat.
Last week, as I read the story of Ruth and Naomi, it resonated with me in a way it never has before. Naomi and her family fled Judah to seek safety and provision in Moab. There, her sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Ten years later, the three women are widowed, destitute, and pondering where their provision will come from next. Naomi plans to seek refuge again in Judah but urges her daughters-in-law to let her make this move alone. Like Orpah opted to do, Ruth could return to what felt like a safe option, a life she could slip back into like one’s own bed after time away.
Instead, she made the difficult choice to stay: to stay loyal to Naomi, to stay in relationship with God, and to stay submitted to His plans for her life. As she and Naomi began the long journey dragging breaking hearts and withering bodies to Bethlehem, Ruth could not even guess at how God would honor her faithfulness and bless her and Naomi’s families for generations to come. We don’t get to see the events that bolstered Ruth’s confidence before this fateful day, but we sense she had gained an ability to differentiate between false security and true safety.
For cross-cultural workers, the temptation to fall onto false security is stronger than the urge to eat our feelings away during language school. False security is deceptively comforting because we sense we are doing something to ensure our safety. Many of the things we lean on are not harmful, but they are sad substitutes for the power of the living God. They may fill the emptiness for a moment, but they hold no promise to secure our hearts or to help us resist the Enemy while we remain in the protective care of God. Can you identify ways you may be trusting in false security?
|False Security||True Safety|
|I’m in my host/home country, so I am safe.||I am in God’s care, so I am safe (Ps. 4:8).|
|I have the support of my community, so I can do anything!||I can endure with joy because His strength will sustain me (Phil. 4:13).|
|This feels good/right to me.||I have a promise He is doing good in my life no matter how I feel about it (Ro. 8:28).|
|I can trust my instincts.||I can trust God to guide me and give me wisdom (Ps. 37:23).|
Our family’s debates about what to do during the crisis of 2020 would have evolved differently had we sought true safety rather than grasping at false security to ease our fears. Personally, I failed to direct my heart towards the promises of protection freely available to me in Scripture. As we face difficulty, humbling ourselves and submitting to the purposes of God can seem like an impossible endeavor with no inherent hope.
At these times, we must seek godly counsel like what is found in 1 Peter 5:6-10 (KJV):
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
When we face hardships of any kind in our lives and ministries, I pray we will learn to discern between false security and true safety. Remembering any source of worldly comfort can never do what Jesus has done, let us choose Him every time. Trusting that everything we need is already in His hand, we find our confidence to journey faithfully like Ruth. We can bravely, wisely choose to stay in faithful submission to the plans He has for us whether that choice feels right or it doesn’t.
As the Lord gives opportunity to labor and live together, may we be diligent in our duty as sisters-in-Christ and co-labors in kingdom life and work to reject notions of false security and consistently lead one another to our source of true safety. Whether our journey finds us in our passport country, host-country or somewhere in between, we will find our safe harbor not in a place but in a Person — Christ alone.
What has helped point you to the source of true safety in tough times?
Connection Group registration opens this week! Click on the button below to check out all the groups available this session, and make sure to come back at 6:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday, March 16th to register!