safety first?

Across the street there’s construction going on. Actually, it’s been going on for a long time and will continue into next year. And to give some perspective on the construction process here as I have observed it, entire families move to the site, build their own temporary shelters and all work on whatever piece of the building they’ve been hired to do. So basically, women and men carry bricks and mortar up and down stairs all day; kids play in piles of sand without supervision; everyone uses a hose or bucket to bathe in the great outdoors for all passerby’s to see–even the women. It’s a hard, gritty life.

It is also a life that doesn’t allow for the luxury of considering safety all the time. This is shocking to us because many North Americans are obsessed with safety, while most of the world doesn’t have time to be. Trust me, I know of what I speak, I ask “what if” about ten times a day. Safety is always on my mind.

I suppose here when you have a job to do and whether or not you get it done determines if you eat from day-to-day, you don’t worry quite as much or fuss over the details. Details like, say, a small child three-stories up on an open concrete slab just casually yelling down to his parents below (Hey mom! Look I’m really high and there’s no rail!). This was not the first time I’ve seen him or others the same size meandering around the site or the street unattended. It makes me gasp because I know there’s no way my kids, the three-year-old at least, would be savvy enough right now to stay away from the edge and would surely fall off. But I suppose when you grow up on a construction site you learn the boundaries fast because that is what you’ve been conditioned to do. Right?

I’m sure I will continue to be amazed (um, horrified) at the lack of safety here– five people on a motorcycle, wobbly rickshaws, no seat-belts in taxis, and kids who run around busy streets and live on sidewalks, you know, the normal. The reality is that I can try to do everything that possible to keep myself and my family safe, but in the end God is in control of each breath we take. And while I want to be wise and not intentionally put myself or my family in harm’s way, I also want a life yielded to what God wants even if it feels a little risky at times. I’m not saying safety is a bad thing (I adore seat-belts, helmets and high railings), but it should not be what drives me–and it does, too often. Loving God and others is what I’ve been called to do and sometimes that can lead to places that are not perceived as “safe” and that is scary and stretching for me.


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