Do you stumble in a Safe country?

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  2 Comments

Jeremiah 12:5 “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

The first part of this popular verse has always pre-occupied me in the past, but recently the phrase ‘stumble in safe country’ caused me to reflect a bit.

Part of the way God provides for our growth in Christ is to place us in a ‘safe country’. These are often the places where he teaches us new things in a controlled environment. God’s classroom for building his servants is not always in the Bible School, but out there in life as you ‘race with men on foot’. God would never thrust us out to ‘compete with horses’ until he has prepared us in ‘the safe country’ by ‘racing with men on foot’.

The problem is, that many of us do not recognise our ‘safe country’ as an opportunity to grow, but rather we relax because we put our trust in our land of safety as if it would always be there. (NKJV  puts that section of the verse this way; ‘in the land of peace, in which you trusted’). It is possible to be at peace in our ‘safe country’, but often the safe country is a challenging place, and some do not grow because they react against the restrictions, inconveniences or limitations that their ‘safe country’ brings upon them.

In the case of Jeremiah, he was not happy with the circumstances that faced him. He was complaining at the start of this chapter (12) on how unfair things were around him. The Lord’s reply to him was in essence something like this: “Can’t you see you are in a safe country, if you are not able to stand the pressures here, how are you going to be prepared to face the greater challenges ahead?” The safe country is not always a comfortable place, but it is a safe place in which to grow.

The best natural parallel of this spiritual principle is the way God places children in homes under their parents. It provides them with a safe place to grow and prepare for the tough demands of adulthood when they must ‘compete against horses’. But we find many teenagers who, instead of making the most of the ‘safe country’ of their homes for growth and preparation for the future, are only focussed on getting away from the restrictions of their parents! In the same way God has brought many of us into a safe country, but we are not making the most of it to grow, but are rather focussed on getting away from it, because of the challenges it poses.

How do we recognise when we are in a safe country? Let me suggest a few things you may use to identify your ‘safe country’:

  • When God places people around you who accept you as part of their community;
  • When God gives you people who can see the person you are called to be, and who feel a responsibility to bear you up in prayer;
  • When God gives you people who feel a responsibility to speak into your life;
  • When you are in a place where you are allowed to make mistakes, but, at the same time, be challenged to change by the people and circumstances around you.

There are too many who stumble in their safe country. Ours is a generation of prodigals who would do anything to flee the transparency and accountability that close relationships bring. So we are often unwilling to know and be known as we really are, by those around us. There are also those of us who are so concerned about not making mistakes that we are not using our safe country to grow by stepping out in faith to stretch ourselves for God.

I was talking with a friend who serves as a pastor under a senior pastor but who senses a future call one day to start a church. I spoke of the need to make the most of the ‘safe country’ God has given him to grow, by serving beyond the call of duty.

I want to encourage you to seek God’s help to identify your safe country and to seize the opportunity to grow, by choosing to submit yourself to your community through openness and honesty; and by daring to venture after the things God has put in your heart to do, under the cover of your community.