Do you know your dangerous times? Everybody has them. Moreover, if we live and work outside our home culture, we face special dangers. Parents and friends feel concerned for our health and safety. That’s a good thing. Like the Randy Newman song, says, “It’s a Jungle Out There.” It is great to know that people who love us pray for us. Who knows where we would be if they didn’t.
Sometimes the dangers become more acute, more threatening. Recently I received an email from a PW asking for prayer because her host country is about to crumble. General strikes, mobs, rioting- turmoil everywhere.
Another young woman, on home leave from Japan, struggled with the fear her parents had for her safety amidst the nuclear reactor cleanup. Yet she has a divine calling to love her Japanese neighbors. And as all of you know so well, love costs.
One middle-aged PW, in pain after a long and bumpy ride followed by a long trek to the villages, wondered if this would be the last time she could endure such painful trips.
It seems that road travel always threatens our physical safety. In some places, like Hanoi, you risk injury or worse every time you cross the street. You wade into a river of motorbikes, cars, bicycles, trishaws, and handcarts- a river always at flood stage. I am sure you know the scene. We could have a great discussion about which country has the worst drivers and the craziest roads. Seems like all of us live in places where the rules of the road seem to be unknown, ignored, or just made up as you go.
We must know that we are right where God has placed us. That is our greatest source of confidence and peace. If you need to surround yourself with reminders of God’s call and provisions, do it. It is vital that you never forget why you are where you are.
We really need to pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, too. It could save our lives. Our friend, (we’ll call her Alice) was on a perilous government assignment in a very dangerous city. She asked her friends to pray for her while she was there.
One day, while standing on a street corner, Alice felt prompted to cross to the diagonal corner. No sooner had she crossed when a car bomb exploded at the spot where she had been standing. Alice said that from that moment on she was not afraid. She knew that God would direct her to safety. She only needed to be sensitive to His direction.
Dangers less Obvious
But now, on to the more subtle dangers to our souls. Consider Proverbs 27:12, in the Today’s English Version:
“Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”
One of the most unusual times our soul is in danger is after a victory or promotion. Rejoice that God has used you and people appreciate you. But be careful! We may begin to take things into our own hands and let down our guard. Then the enemy comes in with a second attack. Oh, how we need to stay humble and submitted to God and His direction.
An even more subtle danger comes after a time of great blessing or spiritual usefulness. We begin to feel, “Now I know how to do this. I know the secret to spiritual usefulness.” We may forget that we were blessed because we were obedient, not because we were clever enough to bring the blessing. We need to thank God for every spiritual blessing and guard our hearts.
If you are like me, times of waiting are dangerous times. When it seems God has forgotten His promise, that we have been benched, our souls are in danger. There is the ever-present danger that we will move on impulse and act independently of God. We need to practice patience and trust God knows what time it is and where we are. Psalm 123 is a great help for times like that:
We keep looking to the LORD our God for His mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. Psalms 123:2
How many powerful ministries have been ruined during times of financial prosperity. I know some of you are saying, “Oh, how I’d like to face that trial!” But remember: we are tested in financial prosperity as well as in lack.
In prosperity there are triplet dangers: pride, false security, and forgetting our Source. We may begin to feel entitled to more finances, or begin to spend on ourselves what was entrusted to us for others. The key is simplicity: give all you can, buy what you need, and trust that God has ways to meet all our needs, all the time.
A worn out PW is a vulnerable PW. It is not a sin to be tired for legitimate reasons. But be careful. Fatigue can lead to self-pity. We can become hypercritical of others’ performance. (“Why didn’t they do more! I had to carry so much weight because they were such slackers.”)
We can become disappointed in our results or question the effectiveness of our methods. Kathryn Kuhlman said that she never made any important decisions or entered into any judgments about herself or the effectiveness of her ministry when she was fatigued. This is generally good counsel.
The first moments after we wake in the morning are the most dangerous moments in the day for some of us. When fully awake we may never fall for subtle satanic suggestions, but in the hazy, half-awake stage we may fall for some of his lies. Seize the high ground. Let your first words of the morning be praise and your first thoughts be towards God. Allow no intruding thoughts to take control of your mind when you awake.
Beware of the danger of thinking you don’t need faith. When you feel your training is sufficient for the task, or your experience is broad enough, you are in danger. Sometimes we think we know know how things work in this culture. But there are always surprises. God wants us to fully trust Him, to seek His will, to obey Him. What He may want in a situation may go totally against what we think we know. When God has a better idea, take it, and rely on Him completely.
Whenever we are where we shouldn’t be we are in danger. The prime Bible example is David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. There is a place of safety in the counsel of others: our board, our co-workers, our family, and our prayer supporters. Add to those the word of God in our hearts and agreement between husband and wife. With those in place, we will not step into unnecessary dangers.
There are enough necessary dangers in doing God’s will. Queen Esther is just one example. In ordinary circumstances, walking into the king’s presence uninvited meant death. Yet she did it in God’s will and saved her people from annihilation. She was ready to die, but she lived. Even so, we cannot presume on God’s protection when we act outside His will.
Let’s continue to grow our relationship with God and stay humble and teachable. Let’s be safe where we live and work for the Lord. Let’s live long lives of service to Him and for His purposes. Then when we see Him face-to-face, we will receive a “Well done.”