The Impracticality of God: safety third

“Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.” – the Crazy Apostle Paul

photo by Hope Deifell

As a pastor, who is also a “Burner” (someone who goes to Burning Man and believes in following the 10 principles of Burning Man), I have a bit of an adventurous streak. That adventurous streak certainly can get me in a pickle from time to time, but I am not sure I would be living without it. I would be existing, but living is something different than existing.

The Burning Man village our team has camped in the last 4-5 years is called Gigsville. Gigsville was one of the first two original villages at Burning Man. It is comprised of artists from LA, and some gnarly old-time Burners, who have a saying about fire, explosions and safety at Burning Man: “Safety Third.” Of course, we know that the necessary consideration of blowing things up is “safety first”, but the adventurous among us never truly think that way. First, we wonder how we can do something amazing. Then we try to get others to join us. Lastly, we try to figure out how to do without getting killed.

Is it possible that God thinks this way as well?

All of the heroes of the faith seem to have overcome impossible odds, traveled through difficult dangers, and faced significant obstacles to accomplish the things we remember. Even as we read the scriptures, we are faced with God sending his people into difficult situations, and doing so in the face of impossible odds. The Apostle Paul outlines the persecution and danger he faced in 2 Corinthians 11. God sent the Jewish people into the wilderness in their deliverance from slavery, and journey to the Promised Land, but when he did so, He sent entire families from the youngest to the oldest to journey through the unforgiving desert. These are only two among scores of examples, but they certainly are not practical adventures for God to request of His people.

I have an expectation that God will ask me to do the impossible. This is not because God is cruel, and has impossible expectations from me. Rather, it is because God wants to walk with me, and work with me, and do the impossible alongside me as I stumble along clumsily attempting to do something far beyond my own capacities. God wants to surprise us with the miraculous. Unfortunately, that means He may call us into impossible situations. But, this should not be seen as a problem, it should be seen as an opportunity for God to work His magic in your life, and in the lives of those around you.

In two weeks, I leave for the Wales and England, and an impossibly exciting adventure in hopes of creating communities of healing and faith in decidedly non-Christian transformative festivals. What a silly idea! So far, God seems to be blessing that silly idea, but it is incredibly impractical in social, health, and monetary respects. A couple from Texas will be joining Dennis and I: David and Sandi Brown. I am giving them a shout out as an amazing example of people who seem to understand that God is a like an old-time Burner. He seems to be jokingly saying, “Safety Third.” They will be bringing their teenage girls to our outreach at the wild Stonehenge Solstice. They came as a family to Salem last October, and we will be seeing them in October again. Of course, they are incredible parents who are watching and caring for their kids better than most of the world today, but they are also bringing the girls along for the wild ride of impossible mission with a crazy God, Who they expect will do impossible things. The Browns are modeling how to raise children in radical faith.

Whether you are old or young, rich or poor, working 9-5 or self-employed; whether you own a house or live in a shelter, have a pile of responsibilities or live in relative freedom; the fact is that you can live in the adventures of God. This does not mean you neglect your responsibilities, but it does mean stepping beyond your comfort zone, because God just might be thinking “safety third.” Of course, He will also protect you in the midst of the adventures.

Check out Burning Religion on Amazon or at Wicked Goods Books in Salem



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