I can tell when it is a young hiker’s first night hike; I caught a glimpse of his saucer-sized eyes in the periphery of my flashlight. He wrung his hands in the middle of the trail, casting glances left and right, as we moved up the trail, searching for whatever might lurk in the confines of the trees after dark.
“Are we safe?” he asked. I surveyed the deepening dark and found myself getting philosophical. I responded, “That’s an interesting question.” He was not asking from a philosophical viewpoint, and he did not like my answer. I decided to move on quickly. “Let me ask you something.” The whole group stopped in the middle of the trail. “What is the most dangerous thing in these woods right now?” He thought about it for a moment, and his face lit up in recognition. He replied, “You are!” “That’s right, buddy, and I am on your side. So what do we have to fear?”
The boy responded by turning and walking ahead of me up the trail, where we crested a freshly mowed open hill top, and observed a sky resplendent with stars. We were done with fear for the night; and beyond fear, there was great beauty to witness.
Sometimes it seems this world wants us hunkered in our bunkers, living in fear of the next great cataclysm; but God has a different message for us, one given to a people who were unsure of the dangers they were surrounded by. But God spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.” (Isaiah 41: 10-11)
Make no mistake; God has a dangerous side, more so than any human. He is the maker and destroyer of kings, queens, cities, kingdoms and empires. He gives and takes away, plants and harvests. And yet, the safest place of all is by His side, living by the knowledge of His word and by daily being conscious of His presence as we live our lives.
I guess I wasn’t the most dangerous thing in the woods after all; and that comes to me as a relief!
Mike Beverly is the senior minister at Indian Springs Christian Church in Kingsport.