Is Anywhere a Safe Haven?

“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.
In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in] faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the Lord.

–          Hosea 2:16-20


On the way back from my wife’s cardiac rehabilitation today, she wanted to buy a few items from the grocery store.  She even decided that she could go into the store herself and let me sit in the car.  I had a book to read, but I did some people watching instead.


At one point, an SUV was backing up from its parking place, going slowly.  Approaching the back of the SUV was a pedestrian, a woman.  The woman saw the SUV backing into her path.  She shifted her groceries, only a couple of bags, to her right arm.  She then lowered her left shoulder in what seemed to be a well-practiced football stance.  She did all of this while she continued to walk behind the SUV that was backing into the same space that she was in.


If I were the SUV driver, I might have seen her and stopped before she walked behind the vehicle, but she could have been in a blind spot when I was looking that direction.  I don’t blame the driver at all.


If I were the pedestrian, I did see the SUV backing up, and I would have stopped.  I might wave at the rearview mirror or side mirror to get the vehicle to stop.  But continue to walk in the path of a moving vehicle?  Even a slowly moving vehicle?  No way.


I guess that is the safety guy in me, but this was crazy.


Eventually with less than a foot to spare, the SUV slammed on the brakes.  The woman had slowed down to hunker down even more, thus getting better leverage.  She was ready to take on this vehicle.  In her mind, she was thinking that she was stronger, with her tiny frame of bone and sinew, than an SUV made of steel, powered by a gasoline engine otherwise used in trucks, that outweighed her by more than 2 tons, including the groceries she carried.  In my mind’s eye, she was probably carrying eggs.


I could go into a tangent about where our strength comes from, but really?  I could tell this story anywhere in the USA except for SW Pennsylvania and the listeners would think that the woman was insane.  But here in my home town, people would claim what my roommate from college (a crazy guy from Pittsburgh, going to school in Mississippi) told me nearly 50 years ago, “In the Pittsburgh area, pedestrians have the right-of-way if they don’t make eye contact with the driver.  If you make eye contact, the pedestrian must yield, but if you don’t make eye contact, you keep walking.  If the driver doesn’t stop, you own him for life.”  Of course, my response was, “If you live to tell the story!”  At that moment 50 years ago, I swore I would never visit Pittsburgh – forget living there, but I have lived here for over 20 years – without killing any pedestrians.  But they scare me to death.


Now before you start talking about how people in your town are not that insane, I have driven in all the lower 48 contiguous states of the USA and other places like Canada, Mexico, and Europe.  India and Thailand are exciting, but I never drove in those countries.  Once you have been anywhere for a while, you get to know their quirks.  I thought people in Pennsylvania drive fast, until I went to my brother-in-law’s wedding a little over a year ago.  Texans make Pennsylvanians look like snails in comparison, but my PA brethren use the maximum speed limit plus ten as a minimum.  Yet, Texans get from the off-ramp several hundred yards and three lanes over to a spot two inches from your bumper in less time than it takes to blink.  Talk about frightening!


When we lived in the Boston, MA area, we learned that stop signs are ignored and red lights are only mild suggestions.  After we moved to South Carolina, I was at a traffic light that did not have a protected left turn signal.  When the light turned green, I sped into a left turn in front of on-coming traffic.  My wife hit me on the shoulder and screamed, “You are NOT in Boston anymore!”  You see, in Boston, they expect you to do that, so on-coming traffic slowly enters the intersection – just in case.


My wife and I agree.  Of all the places that we have driven, we felt safest in Germany.  They may drive ridiculously fast on the autobahn, but you knew what the other drivers were going to do.  They obeyed the laws.  My wife quipped that God only wants us to obey the laws.  Can we learn something from that?


There are places that ignore the lines that divide one lane from another.  There are places that use the horn for everything except emergencies.  There are places where the standard rules for right-of-way are mere suggestions.  In rural areas of about every state, you will find two friends with their cars parked in the only two available lanes to have a ten-minute conversation.  If you have somewhere to go and you honk your horn, one will yell, “Hey, shut up!  We’re discussing church business here!”  They then add a few colorful words to estimate your mental acuity, like imbecile or moron.


Of course, once you learn the quirks, you can anticipate and have a mild feeling of safety.


But you will never be perfectly safe until you are in your Savior’s arms.


Hosea has been commanded by God to marry a promiscuous woman (Hosea 1).  Hosea then lives out a parable in real life of the issues between God and His chosen people.  God is speaking of Hosea’s wife in the Scripture above, but really to all the offspring of Israel.  I will save the bride of the Lord metaphor for another day.


God will provide a safe place.  He has worked it out among the animals.  He will destroy all weapons of war.  There will be peace.  There will be safety.


Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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