Columnists > Voices

Security counsel

"Shall we not take the adventure that Aslan hands us?"

Issue: "All heart," July 14, 2007

After breathing, food, water, sex, and sleep, what I need most to be a functioning person is security, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow. But Maslow died in 1970, and my God lives, and is presently challenging this notion in me, the better to show that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth from His mouth.

"Job" is perhaps the commonest prefix to the word "security," and it is the kind I lack at the moment, having been plunged by Providence into unemployment and its handmaid, uncertainty.

Oswald Chambers, sounding like he's familiar with job loss, writes this about uncertainty: "Naturally, we are inclined to be so mathematical and calculating that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We imagine that we have to reach some end, but that is not the nature of spiritual life. The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty" (My Utmost for His Highest).

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"Certain in our uncertainty." What does that mean? It means I missed the point if I've been living like my highest good is to be "set." "Even biology tells us that a high degree of habitual well-being is not advantageous to a living organism," Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told the 1978 Harvard graduating class. I am presently reckoning with some of that disadvantageousness, and not enjoying it thus far.

Here is my postcard from the other side of the great gulf of gainful employment: The view is that in normal times one tends to derive one's security from notoriously losable things, even while continuing to believe one has placed one's house squarely on the Rock. If you are a child of His, God will not let that state of affairs persist indefinitely.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in The Cost of Discipleship, "The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus); from a life which is observable and calculable (it is, in fact, quite incalculable) into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous (that is, into one which is necessary and calculable); out of the realm of finite (which is in truth the infinite) into the realm of infinite possibilities (which is the one liberating reality)."

In children's terms, this translates as, "Shall we not take the adventure that Aslan hands us?" The nursery version lacks nothing of the profundity of the erudite quote. It communicates that in following Jesus we are following a Person, not a program, and must buckle up for all the quirkiness and unpredictability this entails. Chambers writes, "'Believe also in Me,' said Jesus, not 'Believe certain things about Me.'" (Note the fun corollaries of "breathless expectation" and "surprises all the time.")

It is in no other place than on this scary adventure that we learn to trust Jesus. How could it be otherwise? Commenting on Mark 2:14 (in which Levi the tax collector loses his job), Bonhoeffer writes, "Had Levi stayed at his post, Jesus might have been his present help in trouble, but not the Lord of his whole life. In other words, Levi would never have learned to believe. The new situation must be created, in which it is possible to believe in Jesus as God incarnate; that is, the impossible situation in which everything is staked solely on the word of Jesus."

One of life's joys is when the Lord quickens a verse that long lay on the page inert. And when the epiphany is timely it is twice blest. I have derived encouragement of late from seven words I'd skimmed a hundred times unprofitably. The author of Hebrews, trying to sell us on Jesus as a flesh-and blood brother in our suffering, and not some unmoved Mover, cites three prophecies, of which the second is, "I will put My trust in Him" (2:13).

This is Jesus speaking of the Father. One can feel the pain of every slight and setback that could make the very Son of God feel faint. The background is not Constable but Bosch. The vow is likely made not once but every day, and many times a day. He looks up to the Father, whose word is more security than the securities that all the world affords.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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