Wisdom Offers a Safe Place
Do you remember being scared as a child and running to a parent’s embrace? Or being caught in a storm and reaching the warm safety of shelter? Or, have you sat white-knuckled on a turbulent airplane flight welcoming sweet relief as wheels touch the ground?
Safe at last.
An important place to find. A needed feeling to feel.
Without it we are anxious, agitated, and afraid.
While God is our true safe place, when someone reflects his qualities they offer an aura of safety, approachability, and confidence. A safety that is grounded in the safe place they have found in him.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)
Wyndham has oft been described, for good reason, as a safe place.
When difficult situations arose, he was a first point of contact. When someone needed help with a relational difficulty, he was called on to help sort it out. When people were hurting, his integrity, his hugs, and the wisdom of his words brought “safety” to many. He has provided a safe place for me, for his kids, for his grandkids, the church, and his neighbors and friends. (Only the fish aren’t safe with him.)
32 The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold; the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living. (Proverbs 14:32 MSG)
When I reflect on ways Jesus, full of grace and truth, was a safe place several encounters stand out to me.
The Apostle John referred to himself as the one whom Jesus loved. This scene in John 13 is quite incredible. Jesus, the creator of the world and the Son of God was troubled—sharing his heart with his friends as they ate together.
John felt safe enough to ask the obvious. He felt safe enough to lean his body against Jesus. He felt the safety of assurance of Jesus’ love for him.
21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.
23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.
24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:21-25 NIV 2011)
Jesus was vulnerable. He shared his heart. He shared meals. He sat on the floor with his friends. He gave affection. He told the truth.
In another instance, a crowd of religious law keepers and leaders brought out a woman caught in adultery, intent on stoning her. As the account is given (John 8:1-11) we see Jesus’ interactions with the crowd as well as the shamed and guilty woman. He treated her with dignity, did not “side” with the religious leaders but offered grace (and truth). He reached the hearts, dispersing the crowd—and bringing hope to the shamed woman.
Sometimes he spoke the truth while looking at someone with eyes that exuded love. Other times he called outcasts by name, or made a point to touch them. He wept.
One of my friends, sitting behind us, took this picture during a church service a couple of years ago. I was not feeling well that day and rested my head on Wyndham’s shoulder. On his other shoulder, our dear friends’ special needs daughter rested her head. As Wyndham imitates Jesus, he offers a safe place.
What does being a “safe place” look like?
Wisdom that offers a safe place:
- Makes an individual feel loved, because they are loved.
- Expresses affection.
- Is vulnerable and approachable.
- Shows respect.
- Listens well.
- Seeks to redeem, rather than condemn.
- Validates one’s value.
- Doesn’t assume the one who might appear “more religious” is right, but practices Proverbs 18:17.
- Speaks the truth while leaving one full of hope.
- Points to the ultimate safety which is found in God alone.
- Understands that we are living for something beyond this life.
Wisdom offers a safe place.