Is there any safe place?

(Photo: Ansgar Walk/Wikimedia Commons)

Many years ago my mother came to Jerusalem with a tour group. Of course I went to have supper with her at the hotel where she and her friends were staying while they were here, and one individual in the group asked me, with what I’m sure was the best of intentions, if it wouldn’t be safer for me to go back to America with my mother? I replied by telling this person that “the only safe place for any of us to be is in the center of God’s will for our lives.”

I didn’t know where that had come from. I had certainly never thought much about it before that moment, but as the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew they were true and I’ve repeated them many times since then.

I repeated them again recently when I got a very unusual email from an old friend of mine. To set the scene, he is part of a DEEPLY patriotic American family and his own identity was strongly tied to his being a career soldier in the US Army. But in this email he told me that he was getting out of the Army because he had returned from a deployment in Afghanistan and discovered that the America he grew up in was gone and what had taken its place wasn’t worth fighting for anymore. He had been deployed for much of the last 10 years and he said that while he and his comrades had been overseas defending America from a foreign enemy, it had succumbed to internal enemies that he had never even known were there. The situation is, he said, “not salvageable.”

These statements, coming from him, really took be aback. But what came next was even more shocking to me. 

He said he was cashing out his pension (losing almost half its value in the process) selling off almost everything he owned and using the money to buy a large quantity of canned food and survival gear. His plan was to load all that stuff on a trailer and haul it to a remote location in northern Canada where he said many other veterans from the US and Canadian militaries who had had a similar experience to his have already gathered to build a heavily guarded compound.

He explained that he believed it was only a matter of time before the US and Canada collapsed as organized nations and the only safe place would be in remote, heavily guarded and self-sustaining encampments like the one he was headed towards. He added that the remote, rural regions of Canada and Alaska already have several such encampments  and that he had picked this one because he knew some people who were already there. He said there was some hope that these communities would form the nucleus of a new society which might someday rise from the ashes, like what had happened in a book we’ve both read entitled “How the Irish saved civilization.”

He concluded by saying that if I wanted to join him in his “safe location” I should come to Canada and he’d give me a phone number I could call when I got there which would connect me with people who would give me further instructions on how to proceed. He seemed especially concerned that without America to support it, Israel would be crushed by its hostile neighbors and me and my family would be among those who would perish in the resulting massacre.

After reading this email from start to finish several times, I typed and then deleted several responses. Finally, I sent the following words, which I also hereby impart to anyone who might be reading this blog who is experiencing a similar train of thought which led my friend to conclude that things have gotten so bad and the future is so dark that the only thing left to do is cut his losses and head to the wilderness.

This is what I told him.

My dear friend, the America that we grew up in, and with it the way of life you thought you were fighting to defend and which you hoped to enjoy and  pass on to your own children, is indeed gone and not coming back. For this and other reasons, the future certainly does look grim. I share your sadness over the situation and I don’t blame you for being angry, frightened and disillusioned. 

But I do not believe the plan you have told me about is worth pursuing, although I’m grateful that you care about me enough to invite me to join you in it.

I partially blame myself because I never really tried very hard to share my faith with you. But if you don’t mind, I’ll tell you right now that I believe in a God who loves us and has promised to take care of those who are faithful and obedient to Him. If that’s true, and I think it is, than the only plan which offers hope and/or safety for any of us is to strive to be faithful and obedient to Him and trust that He will take care of us as He promises He will. Nothing else will keep you or me safe, but doing that WILL keep us safe, no matter where we are or what circumstances we’re experiencing.

I believe I’m where He wants me, doing what He wants me to do. So thanks for your offer, but I won’t be joining you.

It’s probably too late for you to reconsider your plan to load up a trailer full of stuff and head to the Canadian wilderness seeking safety with other like-minded individuals. But I hope it isn’t too late for you to pack a Bible into one of your suitcases so that when you get there, you’ll read it and have an encounter with the only One who can save you. I also hope that you keep warm and that the memory of our friendship will bring you some happiness.