07212015_Ann-Voskamp_DangerousDisciples

My Gran, she’s taking slow walks outside the hospital now.

Her heart’s growing stronger, beating certain.

I wash down the cupboards in the kitchen.

I pray for Gran’s heart attack recovery, for each step she keeps taking, ninety-one and frail-boned and Irish-determined.

Life’s a risk and maybe she’s stronger than I am, accepting each heart beat, each step, as ridiculously dangerous — and wanting it anyway.

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I wear gloves, carrying this spray bottle with me from cupboard to cupboard.

The cleaner has this emblem on the front of a skeletal hand, the word DANGER blazoned in white. The Farmer found it in the automotive section. It’s a degreaser. It’s cathartic to scrub hard.

Like I am scrubbing things away. Like a working out of faith.

The Farmer told me today in the kitchen, me bent and relentlessly scouring with that potent cleaner, that sometimes dangerous is good — when fully understood, when right lived.

That our God would only be safe if He were dead.

But He is the Living Word and His Word is a flashing, double-edged sword and He doesn’t write Himself into neat five-point outlines but He is like the wind — and He speaks in parables that subvert and poetry that ignites and metaphors that jolt and there is nothing safe or small or stiff about Him.

That’s what I am thinking as I scrub smudge marks off cupboards, try to wash away all these marks. Thinking what the Beaver said of Aslan:“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

There is nothing safe about the Christ who rent the veins and the veil to save us — He is Divine and He is Dangerous and He is DetonatingHe is no tame lion.

What did Randy Alcorn say and in the most scriptural sense? “It’s dangerous faith in our untamed Savior that leads us to the joy we crave.

While I’m spraying down cupboards with this dangerous, this effective cleaner, it’s playing in the speakers, about the mountains and the hills breaking forth into singing, and all the trees of the field clapping their hands.

And there is so much we don’t understand, though we steep ourselves in the infallible Word, that can’t be domesticated and entirely deduced by finite minds in a world where He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.

I am not ashamed to own that I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, the divine constitution and history of the holy Scriptures, be full of images of divine things,” writes Jonathan Edwards.

Did Edwards have that dangerous, purely biblical faith that Alcorn speaks of, that leads us to the joy we crave — all found in the dangerous Christ?

There are so many marks on the cabinets. I spray. And this is what I’m thinking:

You can only be marked as safe if you’ve fashioned for yourself a God small and tame.

And what the world desperately needs is more dangerous disciples of an unsafe God.

I’ve got this spray bottle in hand of this skin-burning remedy, and I’m working away at the grime, my cloth coming up dirty, and He is this terrifyingly holy God — and who isn’t compelled towards His purifying, white hot love and who doesn’t tremble at His refining fire and who doesn’t want to be made clean?

He is wholly unsafe and He’s the untame lion whose claws tear into the scales of my thick sins and the ripping away of everything filthy can feel like a burning right through to the heart. I need His perfectly dangerous ways.  

The safest thing to do with a God like this is not to play it safe with Him. It is to never get so caught up in keeping the traditions or hastening the innovations that we forget to throw ourselves headlong into His brusque and tender embrace,” writes pastor and author, Mark Buchanan.

“It is to never get so busy protecting God that we fail to take refuge in Him. It is to never become so preoccupied in our Keep God Safe march that we forget to dance before our God with all our might, heedless of the borderland’s rules, tripping the light fantastic all the way into the holy wild.” {Mark Buchanan}

I may not know much 0f what that means — but I am unashamedly wild to know all of Who Christ is and to make much of Him. To glorify Him like that dangerous dancing David, regardless of any scorning Michals, and to let His sanitizing, sanctifying embrace enfold everything.

John Piper had said it like that:

I think it is virtually impossible to honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people in the new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God.

Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means here.

This is the knowing of a lover, not a scholar. A scholar can be a lover.

But a scholar — or a pastor — doesn’t know God until he is a lover.

You can know about God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he doesn’t know God for who He really is.

And that is one great reason why many pastors can become so impure. They don’t know God — the true, massive, glorious, gracious, biblical God.

The humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy — giving fire to the factsis not there.”

{John Piper}

Until we’re ravished by what we see, we don’t really know who God is? Ravished? It sounds so — terribly uncomfortable and wholly dangerous.

But maybe that is the thing?

Does God ever make His people comfortable and hasn’t He always called His disciples to the dangerous?

To say the uncomfortable, to take back the language that’s been hijacked and tainted by a fallen and direly needful culture and use it to speak of His own startling, ravishing, holy metaphor . . .

The Farmer picks up the spray bottle on the counter. I change cloths. He reads the label.

“You know,” he smiles at me scrubbing the fronts of the cabinets, “sometimes safe is useless.”

He’s telling this to the girl in glasses who always sat in the front row right in front of the teacher, who kept careful notes and crossed all her t’s, who can find a game of UNO too risky and going for groceries too hazardous.

He’s telling this to the woman who has gloves on and is carrying around her memory work of Sermon on the Mount and is using a dangerous detergent to get down to the real wood because sometimes the dangerous is the only way to get down to the endangered truth.

Real love is never safe.

And there are Pharisees — and I’ve been one, am one – who are alive and well and who feel far safer with a dead God, one they seal up in a coffin of mere theory, one they bury under the sod of human rationality and tidiness.

Because grace is a dangerous thing and too often those who speak the most about grace are the most graceless of all.

I have lived it too many times and who doesn’t need real cleaning?

I am just beginning to learn it and see it painfully in me:  The modern-day Pharisees focus on avoiding sin and not on ardently loving our Savior.

What all us Pharisees need to experience is this: Ardent love for your Savior is the most direct path of sin avoidance.

What all us Pharisees need to experience is the mystery of the whole of holy Scripture and real crazy love.

The holy wild is always pervaded with mystery,” writes Mark Buchanan.

“This is a bitter irony. That a faith based on staggering mysteries — the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Cross and Resurrection, the imparting of the Spirit — should have become shorn of mystery, so plodding and prosaic, so mundane and managerial is a bitter irony.

It’s an irony that Jesus’ famous statement to Nicodemus, you must be born again, has in our hands been turned into a slogan and a formula.

Out of Jesus’ mouth, in Nicodemus’ ear, that statement proclaimed a staggering mystery.

It was the ultimate antiformula.

{Mark Buchanan}

The Farmer sets the bottle of cleaning formula down on the counter.

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And maybe real faith is seldom about formula but about believing in the dangerous uncontrollable — and being done with the controllable safe.

Maybe faith isn’t as much formula as the mystery of being drawn to, surrendering to, the overwhelming love and will of the most dangerous Reality in all the universe?

Maybe that winking Farmer has a point — the right dangerous can be good and the wrong safe can be useless.

Those who have His fire in their bones aren’t ever safe. Open Flames are always dangerous.

“You heard Granny’s up and walking about? Getting over the heart attack?” I tell the Farmer there leaning up against the counter.

I’m kneeled, an open cupboard in hand.

And I’m thinking of my Gran and me and all the heartbroken and faith fearful, and it’s like everything is opening up . . .

The heart recovers as it keeps walking dangerously ahead.

A heart recovers as it embraces the inherent risks of living.

God met Moses on a mountaintop. Who ever said climbing mountains was safe? 

Where are those who are willing to be dangerous disciples of the unsafe God who is the safest of all? 

And a heart recovering, beating strong and stronger —

It can sound as loud and dangerous as thunder in the desert, a resounding pounding for a straight pathway for the God who shatters the skies wide open with all His wild truth . . .

With all His holy, unmanageable love that scours the dirty brave right clean.

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What the world desperately needs is more dangerous disciples of an unsafe God. {Tweet this!}

Q4U: How have you seen small faith in a safe God hurt your faith? Where are you ready to be a dangerous disciple? What would that look like for you right now?

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Ann,
    I admit I can be, am at times, a Pharisee who feels far safer with a dead God. It is so much easier to absorb a gentle and loving Savior (which He is), but to go out on a limb and describe His love as furious, His power as dangerous…well that takes me outside my comfort zone and that, precisely, is where God wants me. No one has ever been stirred to follow a “safe” leader and if I want my life to lead people to my God, I need to be willing to live more dangerously…that way others can see the righteous hand that holds me up in the fire and their eyes will be on Him and not on me. Inspiring, Ann!!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Always a humbling grace to read your wise words, insight, heart. Like a glass of cold water. With you, Bev…

    • Beth Williams

      Bev,
      Prayers for the pain in your body to be healed. I pray the cortisone shots are working! God bless you for being willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things!!
      ((Hugs))

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Thanks for your concern, Beth. Slowly but surely I think I’m heading in the right direction. Two steps forward and then one back and so it goes. Thanks for the ((hugs)) and prayers…keeping you in mine :)

    • Diana Fleenor

      Bev, I just thought I’d introduce myself. I’ve watched your consistent posting of comments and can see your heart of love for the Lord as well as the people here. I also have noted that you are dealing with a chronic pain condition. I can relate as I, too, have a chronic health issue which is very limiting to me physically and relationally. Yet, the Lord is here with us, isn’t He?!? My prayer for you this morning is for the Lord to bless you with His presence in such a way it brings about the peace that passing understanding in Christ Jesus as He promises us in His word. I also pray He will give each of us wisdom to take the steps of risk for the sake of His kingdom as He leads us in those steps.
      As I’m grateful for the deep provoking thoughts Ann brought out in this blog, I also appreciate your words of encouragement that you pour out onto all of us here. Blessings to you, Diana

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Diana,
        Thank you so much for your very sweet and kind comments. I also want to thank you for your prayers…they are greatly appreciated! I am lifting you up right now before the Lord, for the chronic health issue that you refer to. May God pour out His love and blessings upon you. We are all in this journey called life together. Thanks for reaching out that we may walk forward, one step at a time, together…
        Blessings,
        Bev xx

        • Diana Fleenor

          Bev, you are welcome and thank you for your prayers in return. Yes, together…in Christ!
          Diana

  • Anna Smit

    Ann, I’ve sent this post to all my close friends and family. It’s only by walking into my worst fears that I’m slowly discovering what True Love is, so this post really resonated with me. The biggest blessings have started coming through the darkest and most terrifying of experiences. I pray that I never lose this willingness to step into the fear.

    • Anna Smit

      The “humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy” is exactly how I’d describe what I experienced in my first EMDR treatment session for PTSD, where my powerlessness and brokenness was revealed to the extreme, but His power and Fatherly protection, warmth and peace was too in images, words and the worship song “Majesty, Worship His Majesty”. And strangely enough it’s in this breaking and humbling of me that I’m becoming much more confident of His Love for me. I had been playing it safe for years. I no longer just want to be acquainted with God, I want to be in love with Him. Recently, I read 2 Corinthians: 4 again and Song of Songs 2. Both, in a sense, talk about us stepping out of hiding and a false sense of security to walk in faith with our Lover at our side, leaning on, feeling safe and being confident in Him, rather than ourselves. Yes, as Paul tells us, we will be hard pressed from all sides, crushed, perplexed and persecuted, but all these things will push us into His arms, if we let them. It’s only in admitting my fears, my anger, my heartache, my doubts, my feelings of rejection that I’ve allowed Jesus to speak and move into these and reveal who HE really is, rather than who I think He is.

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        (((Hugs))) Anna!
        B

        • Anna Smit

          Hugs back at you, Bev. How are you doing with the pain?

          • Bev @ Walking Well With God

            Got a cortisone injection and am going to physical therapy to help things along…thanks for caring!

          • Anna Smit

            I hope the cortisone injection is helping some and the physical therapy too. Praying.

      • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

        Thank you, Anna, yes, yes, yes, sister. He loves you and He stretches wide His arms and offers us eternity through that Cross. Reaching over and squeezing your hand, beautiful Anna…

        • Anna Smit

          Thank you, Ann. And thank you for your Spirit-filled words of wisdom and conviction. They encouraged me enormously today.

      • Angelina

        Sounds good! May I ask – did you have worship music while you underwent EMDR? If yes where did you get this treatment. Fellow PTSD warrior here and am just wondering.

        • Anna Smit

          Hi Angelina, I don’t live in the States. No, I didn’t have worship music playing and the therapist wasn’t even a Christian. But I prayed strongly before and after and told the therapist of my faith. I believe God can work through anyone and basically all she did was ask questions (what do you see, hear, feel) and ask me to go back to my worst memory image at times. There was no Christian therapist available in my town, but I also felt God calling me to trust He would provide and He did.

          • Anna Smit

            Oh and of course she got me to follow her fingers to break the memory cocoon. You’re completely with it the whole time though…it’s not hypnosis like some would have you believe. A good thing is to memorise a Scripture that helps you feel safe.

      • Beth Williams

        Anna,
        Prayers for healing from PTSD. I pray also that you get a fire for God again and really start living for Him! May He bring complete healing to you body, mind and soul!

        (((Hugs)))

  • http://kriscamealy.com/ Kris Camealy

    I love this, Ann. I love the wildness of God, the untamable love He holds for His wild and woolly children. I used to be so afraid of Him, but these days I want to press harder into His passion, harder into His mission–to fully embrace the Wild of this God who is dangerous but good, who is mercy AND justice, this God who is Love and discipline.

    Thank you for this, my friend. He makes us clean and brave and fierce in the face of our enemies, all for His glory!

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Amen, friend, Amen. So with you today…

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Ann, this post sounds familiar about your beloved grandmother and your cleansing “frenzy.” How I needed to read it now. It is potent, and so much of it resonates with me at this time in my life. And this line: “That our God would only be safe if He were dead,” hits me hard. God is certainly NOT dead, of course, but I know I’ve been. When we play it safe, sans danger, sans risk-taking, we are dead to the Spirit who bids us follow Him absolutely *anywhere*– into the vast unknown, up the highest mountain, over the most perilous cliff, into the wildest raging sea. But I’ve not done that. I’ve preferred to play it safe for quite a while now, I’m thinking–yes, originally called to solitude and silence, not of my making or choosing, not without angst and wrestling (and if God calls you to that place, it’s unsafe not to say yes, no matter what else you may desire; it iswholly unsafe to disobey God and not to retreat when He bids it). But when He calls you out into the wild, untamed unknown–into that which feels risky and perilous–then it is likewise unsafe, imprudent, insane to stay even one *second* more. And I know I’ve done that–God forgive me, I have. And my passion has diminished because of it. But here is the crazy part: Our passionate Lover will have none of it. Despite my refusals, despite my complacency, when He could just write me off, amazingly He keeps wildly pursuing, when it is dangerous for Him to do so, when His loving wretches and fools like me causes Him to run the dangerous risk of looking foolish Himself (imagine our great, almighty God willing to look foolish! That’s staggering). Talk about David! It’s even far more dangerous for a holy, perfect, awesome God to bend low, to come running from heaven like the fool father of the prodigal, to open His arms wide not in a fatherly embrace but stretched between the executioner’s nails, and all because He loves me, you, all those who repent. Loving *us* endangered God and cost Him the life of His Son. When I think of that tears well, heart beats, pulse races. How can I be complacent to the danger He endured, to the life He laid down so that I can be freed from sin and safety? I can’t. I know I have to rise up and risk, to embrace God and whatever His vision for my life might hold. I have but one choice: Either I can risk danger or death of soul. How I thank Him for putting messages like yours (and your husband’s!!!) in my path. Now, God help me, let me put feet to the path and start venturing out! God bless you, Ann Voskamp! Keep running the risk. Keep dancing like David. I assure you that you are no fool for so doing.
    Love
    Lynn

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Words can seem so ridiculously trite and I wince to desecrate holy space — nodding hard, lump in throat, tears streaming — just right there with you, Lynn.

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        thank you for your gracious, loving response, Ann. You’re helping me to put on my courage skin today.
        Love
        Lynn

    • Connie Snedaker Deal

      So beautiful. Thank you.
      I do feel God is pursuing me and is calling me to come away from the safety and passionately pursue Him. And yet, I don’t know what He’s asking me to do. I guess for now it’s just keep falling more in love with Him and then being open to wherever He may take me.

  • Penny

    Ann,
    I’ll keep your Granny in my prayers for her recovery.

    Your post sounds familiar, living unsafely while being protected.
    This place where I live is naturally beautiful but it is also naturally unsafe. Yet it is a place where you can feel close to Him but also fear Him. The fear of the wildlife you encounter, the threat from the earthquakes, the storms and whatever else comes our way. But we have been kept safe through it all, us who choose to live here. We were untouched by a firestorm this summer. There was real fear but no one fled from it, they stuck together not wanting to part from loved ones or family companions. We were protected by Him and the brave souls that battled it for us. And my son and I sighed and said to each other,”Through the danger, thankfully God has kept us safe.”

    Yes He is dangerous but (thankfully) HE has kept us safe.

    Thank-you Ann for the beauty of your words…..

    Penny

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Keeping my eyes on Him with you, Penny…I send more love than the backs of these letters can carry, sister. Know a farm sister is grateful with you today, letting her voice fold into Jesus’ who is cheering and championing you on!

      • Penny

        Thank-you so much….

  • http://www.ahouseandyard.com/ Calista

    Yes! …dangerous disciples of the unsafe God who is the safest of all.

    The dichotomy of the danger of our unsafe God and our need for safety, as well as the fact that true Jesus disciples and our faith seem dangerous to people searching for safety is mind-boggling!

    Another thing…. “The heart recovers as it keeps walking dangerously ahead. A heart recovers as it embraces the inherent risks of living.” So true! And a lesson learned only by doing it afraid. This principle resonates with me as my heart recovers from a shattered marriage that God is miraculously piecing back together.

    We desire – need – safety in our relationships, but love is always risky. However, it is only through taking the risk that you can find the safety.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Calista, wrapping you close in my heart with prayer just now. Listen to the heartbeat of His Love and the lines of His Word as your heart recovers, friend. Grateful you’ve shared here with us, as your words mentor me today…

  • JeanneTakenaka

    From a girl who loves the feeling of being safe, it’s been hard to walk into those dangerous places God’s led me over the past few years. Dangerous in learning how to truly trust Him with those I love most in this world . . . dangerous in stepping out in the callings God’s given. But to not do so is to die a little bit everyday.

    I’m always safest when I’m following where God leads. Trusting our dangerous God to guide every footfall. Walking on the writing journey has me living dangerous . . . outside my comfort zone, being stretched and learning to depend solely on God for my identity and for His plans to fulfill this calling. Thank goodness He’s a loving God!

    I loved this post, Ann.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      You are soul beautiful, Jeanne. Thank you for grace — just right there, on my knees with you! He holds us!

  • debbiehaleyangel

    Coping with panic disorder, I am constantly feeling things are dangerous. I pray to God each day that with Jesus’s hand holding mine we can master the dangerous. It’s a hard road and I couldn’t do it without faith. Scares me to think of God being dangerous…

    • Anna Smit

      Debbie, I’m not sure if you saw my post above. There is such hope and know this that He has never and will never leave or forsake you. You are loved, fiercely loved by a loving Father who wants nothing more than for you to lean into His protection, strength and beautiful love. Praying right now for you.

      • debbiehaleyangel

        Anna, I didn’t but I went and read it and wanted you to know I’ve said a prayer for you. I’m leaning and loving and praying and I know He is here with me and will never leave.

        • Anna Smit

          Thank you, Debbie. BTW I’ve struggled/still struggle! with fears and it was wonderful reading Angie Smith’s What Women Fear recently. Her battle with fear and God continuing to meet her in it all were really encouraging. In reading the Old Testament I’m also discovering several Biblical followers of God struggling with similar fears and seeing how God responds in loving kindness by choosing to meet them in spectacular fashion.

          • debbiehaleyangel

            I will have to check out Angie’s book. Thank you for the recommendation! God bless you…

    • Carrie

      Debbie, I too am walking the road of overcoming fear’s death grip on my heart. I’m not there yet but one thing I’ve learned is absolute dependence on my Shepherd and Savior Jesus Christ and I’m confident He will not fail me and He will not fail you either.

      • debbiehaleyangel

        I said a prayer for you Carrie and thank you for your encouraging words.

        • Carrie

          Thank you. Said a prayer for your too. I know it sounds child like but I have a child’s lullaby CD called Hidden in My Heart A Journey with Scripture that I listen to to hear Jesus just sing over me. My favorite lullabies/scriptures are Be still My Soul and I Will Never Leave You. It’s like my Father singing over His child scripture :)

          • debbiehaleyangel

            Not child like at all…I’m sure it is very comforting to you and brings you peace.

    • Beth Williams

      Debbie,
      There is plenty of Hope in Jesus! He is there willing to help and heal you mind, body and soul! He is always with you-never leaving you! Prayers for you my sister!!
      (((Hugs)))

      • debbiehaleyangel

        Thank you very much Beth and (((hugs))) to you too! We’re all in it in together xoxo

  • Merry Kruger

    Ann, I so love reading your words! Thank you for encouraging me to live dangerously in the “safe” arms of my UNSAFE loving Savior! So exciting! Continue to stir the fire

  • http://www.lauriekleinscribe.com Laurie Klein

    Ann, Mr. Beaver tells it like it is . . . and you embody it here, for us: daring and sacrificial and to-the-bone honest. Your text is a holy charge, the best of all double-dog-dare-yas to really love, and thereby, live. I am all stirred up by the fearsome beauty and power you invite me toward . . .

  • Haley Long

    Read these words as I took a break from writing. (Well, not really writing- just sitting in front of the computer knowing I’m supposed to and feeling paralyzed that I’m going to mess it up :-) There’s a story (I think) God wants me to tell but I’m scared to tell it- because it’s so unsafe on so many levels. I think if I get out of the way and “decrease”, this story of His could bring freedom in some dark places and no doubt bring Him glory- the miracles He worked still leave me shaking my head in wonder. I kinda thought I was out-of-love with “safe” as God has graciously lured us out into deeper waters over the past decade- parenting with chronic pain … then His call to all these kids across the sea that He brought us from the east and the west… and the surgeries and the tiny house with all seven of us. And even living the story I’m too afraid to tell. Following Him into the holy wild has left us free and filled and in desperate need of everyday-grace-like-manna. And always He has been faithful- there hasn’t been a day that manna-grace hasn’t come. I don’t ever want to go back to “safe”- His “unsafe” ways have brought us laughter (Isaac) and life (Zoe) and joy (Chara) and delight (Eden) and our beloved “son of my right hand” (Ben). And far far above all that crazy goodness- these unsafe roads brought what my heart most longs for. Jesus. He is my goal and hope and worth risking everything for. Praying I will be found faithful in this new journey- to let Him say what He wants to say through me.

    • Anna Smit

      Haley, please please please write your God-filled journey. These words of yours alone are filled to the brim with life, abundant Spirit-filled life that speak such encouragement. And take a look at 1 Corinthians 2:4 and also at God’s response to Moses who said he couldn’t speak because of his stutter.

      • Haley Long

        Anna, Thank you for your kind words and particularly for directing me to this particular scripture. I took some time going through Chapter 2 of 1 Cor last night and it is my new prayer for any words that I write or speak– “not with words of human wisdom lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”. Sometimes I feel the pressure to write a certain way- but what a great reminder that God stands alone in His power to move the human heart. He doesn’t need my eloquence– maybe it would even get in the way! If our words- like our lives- can be just emptied and open to His spirit to do what only He can do! Blessings to you today, Anna! And always heartfelt thanks to Ann whose words saturate my spirit with Jesus– probably because she’s walking out 1 Cor 2 and we get to experience the genuine Spirit power in this way ;-) Hugs, Haley

        • Anna Smit

          You’re welcome, Haley. I’m glad I could encourage you. It’s a verse that really helped me when I was extremely nervous about giving my testimony at church last year. Praying God’s blessing over you and your testimony to God’s loving faithfulness.

  • alina

    It took me so long to admit to myself a safe God is not what my soul is longing for. I finally see why God allows us to go through trials and grief, hurt and pain. Its to make me see his Grace his love. Its to mold me. To show his power and his authority. I want to stay in my comfort zone but God takes me farther I want to trust Him but sometimes I fail. Thank you Ann for this post it really got me thinking.

  • http://thisdreamersjourney-lynne.blogspot.com/ Lynne Holder

    Ann, there is so much in this post that sent my brain reeling I had to get up and go outside…take some time to think. I tossed the ball to the dog a few times, wondering if I was reading all this correctly, or was I only hoping I’m not the only one. I want to not feel so alone in my thoughts in a world that feels like it is off its axis.

    “Life’s a risk and maybe she’s stronger than I am, accepting each heart beat, each step, as ridiculously dangerous — and wanting it anyway.”

    “You can only be marked as safe if you’ve fashioned for yourself a God small and tame. And what the world desperately needs is more dangerous disciples of an unsafe God.”

    “…sometimes the dangerous is the only way to get down to the endangered truth.”

    And this: “To say the uncomfortable, to take back the language that’s been hijacked and tainted by a fallen and direly needful culture…”

    Ann, how do we experience the mystery of the whole of holy Scripture and real crazy love when the North American Church culture has conjured a God they feel is safe; made of marshmallowy, squishy, good feelings?

    Truth in both the secular and Christian worldviews is not only endangered, it has become relative. Truth is, and always will be, God loves the sinner so much, Jesus paid the ultimate price for sin; paid the debt we owe a righteous God because he and sin do not coexist.

    God is most certainly amazing, unfathomable love! Can I tell you how he has loved me? He has taken away everything I idolized–job, car, independence, passion for horses and riding, modeling career, money–and brought me to the place of injury, pain, and bankruptcy. Determined, finally, to sit and wait for him (definitely not willingly, at first) instead of running from him, he has my full attention and devotion. I pray for his love to flow through me to others, because I sure can’t manufacture it. My husband and I have prayed our “anything” prayers and we are seeking God’s leading for next steps in service to him.

    Did all this feel dangerous? You betcha. Is he safe? After what we have walked through, can’t say so. Is he good? Absolutely. Is he faithful? Resounding yes.

    This scrubbing down to the wood with dangerous cleaning solution is a fantastic metaphor for my life the last few years. Thanks, Ann. Many blessings, Lynne

  • Jodi

    I finished reading this and felt like I had been to an incredible I worship service!…and All God’s children said, ” AMEN!”. Whew! :) Needed THAT!!!

  • Samantha P

    Hi Ann,
    How I love Narnia and the thought of that ‘good’ yet unsafe lion! In reality…as a mum…I have focused so much on protecting my girls as they grow, feeding them with Sunday School, prayer, church etc, of warning them of dangers and limiting their freedoms, that in these teen years…I wonder if in fact I have not prepared them and instead have emphasized a ‘safe’ faith. Sometimes I wonder whether for our teens, this picture of a ‘safe’ God is the ultimate letdown as they search for the real, to actually hear His voice and learn to trust Him with the hard, with the ever increasing challenges their generation throws at them. I look at my own ‘safe’ choices and feel ashamed that I am their example. I know He can redeem the time…how gracious is our Lord!
    Thanks for your words always…and for the stretching, real faith you plaster on these pages!

    Sam :)

  • Maria C

    This is God’s timing as I read this tonight. The doors are closing in this chapter of my life, and with eyes opened I have been frozen with fear. And I know better because I’ve seen and testified to what a great God I have and without a doubt I know he holds my hand. So I would say I got too comfortable even in a painful chapter… And it’s time to be dangerously brave in Him.

  • Alethea Allen

    Ann!
    I’m in the middle of writing a chapel sermon for our college students when they return this fall called, “Safety Not Gauranteed.” This post was very timely! When Jesus calmed the storm, the Scripture says the disciples in the boat were more afraid than ever before. There is something to be said about encountering God away from the security of dry ground and realizing that you aren’t safe but you are loved- then being willing to drown in that love.
    Thank you, friend!

  • http://www.facebook.com/debbie.simlergoff Debbie Simler-Goff

    I like this. I so want to have the reckless faith of David and go on full blown “unsafe” adventures with God! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://journeytoepiphany.wordpress.com/ Kimberly Sullivan

    Oh Ann…I can not wait to dance wildly before our God together! How I have loved your words…and how they have always drawn me closer to the Dangerous yet Good One! Thank you for causing me to want to spin child-like, dress flaring until I fall down laughing in delight.

  • Janette Cole

    Having gone through years while waiting for a child to come back home taught me more than 100 Sunday school lessons. We saw the awesome power of God in that time, when we, as parents could only hang on to each other and pray. God moved and saved — as nothing else in this world could. And we saw it all first hand. I am more thankful than I can say to have seen our ‘dangerous’ God pull our son out of Satan’s very hands. Maybe I didn’t choose to have that kind of faith-growing experience, but it forever changed how I ‘see’ my Father. Thank you, Ann, for challenging us to see our Lord as who He truly is!

  • http://www.twentyshekels.com twentyshekels

    As God continues to call me into the messy, dark waters of working with moms from hard places and welcoming their children into my home, I realize how much beauty is found when we let go of the safe and comfortable. We miss so much when we play it safe. We miss much beauty, growth, and the experience of pressing into God. God delights in showing us He is able.

  • Wava

    Dangerous Disciples of an Unsafe God. Sounds like a good title/topic for your next book, Ann. Your post is very timely for me. Over the past few weeks, God has been calling me into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.That cannot happen without total trust in Him, without fully resting in Him, without learning what it truely means to abide in Him and draw close to Him. All phrases I have used often over the years as a pastor’s wife. So easy to say them without gathering the courage to really explore what is involved in living them out. Time and circumstance has caused me to retreat to the safe place that talks about a generic God Who never really leaves the pages of Scripture. Recently heard a message by Jentzen Franklin on how we need to let the fire fall, to let the passion of God burn within us again. Many years ago I sat on the edge of a mountain looking down a few thousand feet and loved it. I have often wondered where that woman went. When did I become so fearful and unwilling to take risks? where along the way did I stop daring to live and decided it was better to just play it safe? I’m really not sure, but I know it is time to turn that around. It is hard to move past the fear, but it is time to take some chances and move forward. Thank-you for this post. It feels like confirmation of all God has been speaking to my heart lately. Blessings to you, sweet Ann. And I look forward to maybe reading that book someday??

  • https://adifferentwayofseeing.wordpress.com/ Linda McDonald

    Thank you for these words that have penetrated deep into my soul, just what I needed (but didn’t really want) to hear. I’ve been wrestling with similar themes over the past few weeks, wanting to allow God to have His way in my life but wanting to maintain control myself. I’ve been a believer for 31 years and my journey has ebbed and flowed, I’m one who likes ‘safe’, likes ‘order’….. like you, sitting at the front of the classroom taking careful notes …. afraid to get it wrong. But I hear my God calling to me, gently encouraging me to leave my comfort zone ….. reminding me that the safest place to be is with Him, even when it’s scary. Time to step over the edge ……

  • Elizabeth Ann

    These words hit so close to home right now. My husband and I recently walked through the biggest fire of our lives with God by our side. We welcomed and said goodbye to our baby boy Gideon last January. We knew we were not going to have long with him on earth about halfway through my pregnancy…but we chose to walk the hard path until he left for Heaven.We named him Gideon because even though he was weak we knew our big God could do something big with him. His original due date was Valentine’s day. A couple months ago we found out we are expecting again and in God’s beautiful providence this baby is due one day after Gideon’s due date…February next year will look much different than our heart breaking one this year. Its only when trusting our unsafe God that these beautiful stories are written!

  • Mary-Margaret

    I am not sure what this dangerous faith looks like for me. I have longed for it often, so I have done what I thought were big and dangerous things. Go to seminary, give away most of my earthly possessions, go to Africa, go on mission trips, serve in the church, work with the homeless…yet it seems in all my doing I am still missing something. I am still not understanding this dangerous faith. Lately I have been reading Philippians 3, and for the first time it hit me that when Paul says he counted all loss for the sake of knowing Christ, it was not foremost his earthly possessions. It was all his doing, being, religious activity. Knowing Christ was more important than all the accomplishments. So what does that mean for me? What does this “knowing Christ” look like? I am married to a pastor, who is greatly gifted in teaching God’s Word, and we serve in a small community. Is knowing Christ, “giving up” the ministry? Or do we stay here and seek to know the One who sought us out? The one Who took hold of us? I have definitely struggled with being a Pharisee. Somehow it was ingrained in me that once saved I better keep on trying to be good because that showed everyone I was truly saved…yet that put my faith in me and my works. Meditating on the phrase “the righteousness of God that depends on faith” has been an eye opener for me. It is not my works that gets me to God. It is Christ alone…His blood alone. Most of my life I have known that, but I am praying God will allow that to be precious to me. Which I guess brings me back to wanting to know Him…not just know about Him. I think the root of all the dissatisfaction in all the doing ministry in my life comes from trying to play it safe as a Believer. Trying to keep God in a box I made for Him. Trying to keep Him safe. So, all this rambling to say, I do not know what this unsafe faith looks like for me, but there is more to knowing Christ than I have experienced in my life so far.

  • Debbie Gorden

    Good Morning Ann,

    This is definitely a skewed, but wonderful, new view point for me. I will think more on this idea of a dangerous, likely-to-be ravished kind of relationship.

    Many thanks,

    Debbie

  • Kari Keener

    Small faith in a safe God has hurt my faith terribly in recent years. I’ve had a secure, well paying job in ministry that I have enjoyed. I’ve been feeling a call to find a position in a place where I can help people who are directly in need of Jesus’s touch- to be his hands and feet in the dirty world where people hurt… not managing finances and policies and people in a place where we spend more time bickering with each other than actually accomplishing anything. I’ve had a hard time trusting God to take the step out. Every place has problems, I have financial responsibilities bigger than myself, what would it mean for my family, my kids? Last week I gave notice. I don’t know Gods next adventure. I am so excited though. I’ve had more peace in spite of the very real financial responsibilities. And that’s God. That is how I know He is in this. That is is what being a dangerous disciple is looking like for me right now. Thank you for your post.

    • http://theluekens.blogspot.com Patty Lueken

      Amen!! Let the Prince of your peace lead you step by step and grow in the knowledge of His absolute trustworthiness!!

  • JennyB

    Thank you, Ann, for these Spirit-breathed words that cut my heart to the quick when I see how content I am to allow my fears and anxieties to shrink my God and cause me to choose a small, safe life. I don’t deserve it but I am thankful for a God who is mighty and wild, true and glorious, and yet who fills my cup again and again with His grace. I pray that my love for Him would be true and ardent and that it would drive me to worship and serve Him today and every day. May God bless you and your family.

  • Coy Sabel

    Thank you, Ann, for sharing your thoughts and words of wisdom. I volunteer at a local prison mentoring the women in their walk with Christ. I know God has been prompting me to do more, however the prison officials have been hindering any progression for our ministry. What would a dangerous disciple look like in my situation? She would talk to the decision makers about expanding opportunities for more women to hear about the love of Christ. She would speak truth in love to those who oppose her. She would not be afraid. I pray that I have the courage it takes to follow through with it.

    Coy

    • Janette Cole

      I pray with you, in the Name of Jesus, that you will have the courage to do as you have said. It is such a worthwhile calling for the kingdom of heaven!

  • Tammi

    I feel pastors everywhere will be walking into very dangerous ground just preaching the Word in these last days we may be living in. My husband is a Pastor that will not mince words about what God says in His letter to us. I sometimes have fear of the unknown. Thank you for showing that this fear can be turned into power in danger. Peace in a storm. I feel we as Christians will definitely need this sooner than we think.

  • Beth Williams

    Ann,
    Too often we Christians want to play it safe. Oh go to church, praise God, give money, etc. But if God calls us out into the wild to be missionaries, or go on mission trips to foreign countries to often we don’t want to because it’s scary. I have been to a men’s state prison for (Kairos-Emmaus walk like) weekends. Was it scary going at first yes! Going inside the prison with prisoners there, but I knew God wanted me to do this and I had a good time and the prisoners heard about God! Such a blessing for me!
    Blessings :)

  • http://theluekens.blogspot.com Patty Lueken

    God has ordained trials of late that should be crushing us and instead we see Him training us to run to Him over and over and over, precisely because things are so totally out of our control… [Note to self… I am not in control and they are not in control, but YOU ARE.”]

    Trusting God and seeing Him use my husband’s possible early dementia to humble us both and cause us to cling to Him like never before!

    Last year, one son in South Sudan, Africa [missionary] & our other son in Afghanistan [Army & not walking with the Lord] had me on my knees & finding Him so very FAITHFUL and becoming so expectant of His GLorious Unfolding (S C Chapman).

    A miracle trip to South Sudan this past April to visit our missionary son, without the means to go [no savings, no credit cards, not enough income to pay our monthly bills] & God provided!

    Over and over people told us to “BE SAFE”…
    Safe? How could we BE safe in a 4th world country that is rebuilding after 50 years of civil war!!? The roads were not safe, the officials were not safe, [the water was safe b/c someone from the US donated $ for a deep well] & still I came home & was sick with Typhoid the whole month of May [unlike the dear people of So. Sudan, I had had the vaccine, so my symptoms were not as severe]. They are not living safe lives, should I stay here to be safe?

    Missionary son comes home from South Sudan, the end of May and two weeks later [June] is in the hospital with Malaria gone bad. [cerebral malaria] and in a coma for 2 days and God intervened and showed His hand!
    [“In the storm is where you’ll find Me”- Just Be Held – Casting Crowns]
    God was speaking in the storm and the Prince of Peace carried us.

    Three weeks later [July] same son is re-admitted with neurological symptoms that were so scary for him… doctors are not sure… no experience with tropical disease complications… 5 days later discharged & doing well physically. BUT now I see His hand bringing to the surface struggles in our son’s heart that were not evident before… idols of his own strength that must go in order to learn to rely on HIS strength.

    Last but not least ;) two children considering being tied to that country and the dear people of South Sudan through marriage. Praying about returning to South Sudan as a family to see what God’s plan is…
    People are going to think we/they are CRAZY & IRRESPONSIBLE !!!! BUT…
    Do I want them comfortable and safe and unchallenged here or do I want them to learn to cling to our great God Who is the source of all they need????

    Forgive the deluge…
    I have not shared alot of this with others, only the Father & immediate family, but appreciate your listening and wrestling with me to TRUST HIM no matter what and be changed by seeing WHO HE IS in the midst of the dangerous storms He brings us to and through

    Keep clinging, Patty & family

  • Bethany

    I LOVE your work, I LOVE your words, I LOVE how you always point me to Christ and His word. Thank you!!! Thank you!!! I just got your book and I can’t wait to dive into it (I’m trying to finish another book before I start yours!!).
    I want you to be safe too, ha, have you ever heard of Norwex Cloths. They clean with just water and you don’t have to expose yourself and children to chemicals. Let me know if you want to learn more about it. Thanks!!!

  • Rachel

    Thank you Ann for having the courage to move out of your comfort zone and to tell of it in a way that moves others. God has absolutely blessed you with words of passion AND compassion. No easy feat.
    I don’t quite know how to explain the timeliness of your message. My counselor recommended one of your books to me several weeks ago. And yet the time that piece of paper with her recommendations surfaced is in the very raw and present grief of the ectopic pregnancy I am suffering through. With a broken heart, insurmountable questions and even anger and disappointment I read your story about a very real,dangerous and loving Father. With 3 children I try to find the strength of facing a new day with optimism, hope. But with held back bitterness and doubt of whether or not to trust a loving Father who allowed a little life to be taken.
    But the truth is, I held back. I thrive in cleanliness. Order. Organization. Predictability. I questioned how I would organize life around another addition to our family. Mentally made plans of how I would control the situation…… all while praying for God to cover this little life. I seek control in everything around me. Find immense comfort in all of the measures I take to make my life feel safe. But it is all an illusion. I pray to God while also idolizing my own strength. I look to God but equally if not more so look to my own measures.
    To allow God to make a mess in my life takes my breath away. Makes my heart race. Makes me feel overcome with anxiety. So I guess that response is answer enough of who I think is actually in control, although I would never want that to be the case I have to admit it. I find safety in the world I create. And therefore I am constantly fighting to feel safe. Wow!!! A sad realization for me in this moment.
    And yet for years upon years I have prayed for God to use me. To take me wherever He wants me to go. To let His love guide me, my path, the people I come into contact with and make passionate change….All the while I want to feel safe. Well thank you “plain Ann without the fancy e” because your straightforward message spoke right to my heart because you allowed God to speak directly to yours!!!!!
    With much love and gratitude I truly say thank you

  • Diana Fleenor

    Ann (and others), I’ve been taking time to process this rather complex and deep concept. I come to it with trepidation desiring to walk in truth and grace considering the whole of God’s word along with all of you. Though it’s tempting to not respond because of what feels like “being late to the party”, I sense this is one of those places for me to not “play it safe” and take the risk of responding though most of you may have “moved on”.

    When I first read this blog, I found myself nodding in agreement with so many of Ann’s thoughts (and “the Farmer’s). “Sometimes dangerous is good – when fully understood, when right lived”, “It’s dangerous faith in our untamed Savior that leads us to the joy we crave” are just a couple of examples. I attest to how the Lord is continuing to peel me away from a “safe faith” into this more “dangerous faith”. Joy is springing up in the journey and I am so grateful.

    Yet, I’ve wrestled with one idea in particular that seemed to need a deeper look. Words such as “there is nothing safe about the Christ who rent the veins and the veil to save us”, “He is wholly unsafe and He’s the untamed lion whose claws tear into the scales of my thick sins…” gave me pause. Respectively, I say this…“nothing” and “wholly” seem so black and white.

    In my personal journey to grasp who God is, I came into the search with a preconceived notion that God was unsafe. But for me “unsafe” meant overwhelming fear that I could not approach Him. My fears were as such because I did not first know Him as the “strong tower, the righteous man runs into and is safe” as King David described in the psalms. I’ve needed to see the gravity of my sin for sure, but I also needed to see it in light of this amazing gospel of grace where Jesus, our Lord and Savior, calls “all
    who are weary and heavy laden” into a rest with Him in the yoke. When He describes Himself to me as “gentle and lowly in heart”, I feel safe to come to Him.

    Could it be that this is more of a paradox in which our Lord is both safe and dangerous? As I was seeking more understanding on this topic, I came across this quote of John Piper’s in which he describes the fear of God as if we were caught in a terrible storm while exploring an Arctic glacier. The storm is so strong that you fear you’ll blow right over the side of the cliff. It seems to fit here:

    “At first there was the fear that this terrible storm and awesome terrain might
    claim your life. But then you found a refuge and gained the hope that you would be safe. But not everything in the feeling called fear vanished from your heart. Only the life-threatening part. There remained the trembling, the awe, the wonder, the feeling that you would never want to tangle with such a storm or be the adversary of such power…The fear of God is what is left of the storm when you have a safe place to watch right in the middle of it…Oh, the thrill of being here in the center of the awful power of God, yet protected by God himself!” (See: “Trading Fear for Fear” at Desiring God)

    I see a both perspective in these words. I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this if you are able. My prayers for all of us is to continue to grow in our understanding of this powerful yet protective God who is the holy and loving Creator and Savior of us.

  • https://growingamustardseed.wordpress.com/ EleyanaFaith

    A joy to read this Mrs. Voskamp! I remember the Beavers comment about Aslan when I was reading through Lewis’ great chronicles, and it always stuck with me. No, God is not safe, and we are called to be unsafe with Him through Christ-likeness. We are called to reckless abandon and fearless following and where that leads is always “unsafe” to us natural doubters. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to obey Jesus’ call to “follow me”, Are we really willing to do that? Are we really willing to pick up our cross and follow Him whatever the cost may be? Something to think about…