A coworker and I both lived in less-than-desirable neighborhoods at one time that have since gone even further down hill. One afternoon we talked, laughed, and cringed over how oblivious we were to the dangers surrounding us at that time. I thought nothing of walking to the store alone at night, taking strolls in a park that I now recognize as a haven for drug dealers and creeps of all kind, and making my way to the local library, down a busy street that took me past an apartment complex that I’ve since seen in news segments about stabbings. And no one drove the speed limit down that road either! Marcy and I both let our defenseless children walk to school. Once, while I was lugging groceries home from the store, two nice men offered to help me carry my bags home. I accepted. Only later did it hit me that they could have strangled or done who-knows-what to me once we reached my front door.
“We had no idea that we lived in the ‘hood until we moved out of it,” I told Marcy. “But some of those things would have been unwise no matter where I lived. God really protected me.”
“Yeah, me too.” Marcy shook her head. “God protects the innocent and the stupid.”
I don’t know about you, but sometimes God has to protect me because I’m just plain being dumb. Some days dumb is disguised as independent, but it doesn’t make my choice any less foolish. Growing up with low vision instilled in me a need to prove myself I guess.
For example, a big snow storm hit in early December, transforming the sidewalk into an ice rink. Regardless of how many friends told me, “Whatever you do, don’t walk to work. I know you live close but it’s not safe. Give me a call,” I insisted on walking unless it was actually snowing (I was going through one of my “I can do it myself” phases). That is, until I fell on my . . . you get the idea. Only then did I stop skating to work. It took the memory of another woman who’d fallen in her driveway and received a concussion to remind me that I might not be so fortunately next time.
Here’s one more illustration. A few years ago I got hit by a car in a school parking lot and went to work as if nothing had happened. “I got hit by I car this morning,” I said to my fellow teachers, as if I’d faced a long line at the coffeehouse or some other minor inconvenience.
“You what? Why aren’t you at the doctor?”
“Oh, I’m fine. I didn’t fall very hard.”
“But . . . but . . . it was still a car.”
“I know, but it was only going parking lot speed. I feel like a dork but I’m completely okay. Wow, praise God, huh?”
“Did you get the woman’s phone number, insurance info, and stuff like that, in case you wake up in pain tomorrow? Which, by the way, you probably will.”
I thought about it. Maybe I should have. That was, after all, what people did after accidents. But I had to honestly answer, “No.” I didn’t want to make her feel worse than she already did. Plus all that pealing myself up off the pavement and apologizing for getting in her way had made me late.
By lunch time my back hurt. The next night I woke up with intense pain in my side, and by Friday my boss ordered me, “Will you please see a doctor?!”
Needless to say I was not okay.
Yes, I’d been a bit foolish. But as with so many other close calls, God protected me from far worse.
I’m learning though, not to use God’s record for pulling me out of danger or preventing more than minor “shake up” injuries as an excuse to be . . .well, I hate to throw this word around . . . stupid. In my desire for independence I must also be smart. I must learn to recognize when my desire to prove to everyone around me “I can handle it” isn’t rooted in pride. Knowing that God entrusted me with two bright, beautiful sons should drive me to keep them and myself safe and well.
In Matthew 10:16, Jesus told His disciples “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
“Shrewd” came before “Innocent.” So I take this to mean that I am to be trusting but wise. Though I should be careful about asking too much of people I also need to know when it’s safest to ask for a ride, help, or whatever else has been offered countless times.
When has God protected you in moments of foolishness or innocence that probably should have been combined with a touch of street smarts? Thanks Him for His faithful watchful eye. Pray also for the wisdom to know when you need to play it safe. I promise to do the same.
With much love,