September 4, 2016
On this Labor Day weekend, I am reminded that
work isn’t always “safe.”
Some jobs make it onto reality TV shows because they’re outrageously dangerous –
ice road truckers for examples.
I didn’t know there was such a thing as an ‘ice road trucker,’
but the show on the History channel
tells the stories of these men and women who drive their heavy loads over frozen lakes
to bring supplies to remote areas in Canada and Alaska.[i]
Yes – an accident waiting to happen!
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,
in 2014 there were nearly 3 million non-fatal work-related injuries,
and almost 5000 people died from injuries on the job.
(And these are only the physical injuries.)
Can you guess what the ten most dangerous jobs are?
According to CareerCast[ii], in 2016, the 10 riskiest jobs are:
- Construction laborer
- Correctional officer
- Nursing Assistant
- Police Officer
- Taxi Driver
- Tractor-Trailer Driver
Despite OSHA and other workplace regulations,
Work isn’t always “safe.”
The rest of life isn’t “safe,” either.
Sometimes I think we deserve a medal for bravery just getting through the day!
It’s hard to hear the story from Genesis of creation
and not think about the bravery – the courage – of God.
Here we have this beautiful world –
plants and animals,
oceans and rivers,
birds and fish,
and it’s all ‘good’!
And then, at end of the creation story,
God lets it go.
God releases control
and says that it is now up to humanity.
Humanity becomes the ‘trustee’ of it all –
the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the animals of the land.
Humanity is given the responsibility to care for creation.
This is courage.
This kind of “letting go” that God does, takes courage.
These last couple of weeks several friends of mine
have seen their young adult children leave home for the first time.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine writes that after dropping off his son at college,
he returned home, looked in his son’s old room, saw that the bedside lamp was on,
and turned it off.
“It was a sad moment,” he says.[iii]
Life is full of those kinds of moments – those moments of letting go,
which are sometimes sad.
There are many such moments in which we realize that we can’t always make life safe for those we love:
- we drop a child off at college or say goodbye as they board the bus to basic training;
- we teach them to drive a car;
- we take the training wheels off their bikes;
- we remove the baby gates and safety locks on the cupboards.
All these things that parents do for their kids
means that little by little we lose control.
Their freedom means that we let go – just as God has done for us.
Made in the image of God,
we have been given a bit of God’s courage I think – to let go and allow for that freedom.
It doesn’t happen only with children, of course.
Many of you know that my mom is in her 80’s and has had some health issues.
The main question my siblings and I talk about now is how much to let go…
- Do we ask for power of attorney?
- Do we sign her up for meals on wheels even though she insists she doesn’t need it?
And probably the most difficult question of all because it is so much about freedom and control:
- Do we take away the keys to her car?
These are sad moments.
Moments in which my mother’s freedom is at stake, her dignity, her safety.
Made in the image of God,
we have been given a bit of God’s courage –
with great humility, we realize we cannot always make life safe for those whom we love.
We’ve been publicizing the bone marrow registration drive
here next Sunday,
and I think of Jack’s parents and Abby’s parents and all those parents of children with cancer
who everyday live with the heartbreaking realization
that there’s nothing they can do to cure their children.
It’s out of their control.
We can’t always make life safe for those whom we love.
We can’t even make life safe for ourselves.
Some of us choose more risk than others of course.
Alex Honnold[iv] is a free solo rock climber –
meaning that he climbs the steepest mountains without gear – no ropes.
This past spring, he underwent a special kind of MRI –
researchers were looking at his brain
to learn whether or not he had something in his brain
that was different from others.
(After all, who in their right mind would go rock climbing without ropes, right?)
They were wondering if perhaps he was missing some of the amygdala,
that part of the brain which registers fear.
It turns out that his brain looks just like everyone else’s…
He’s got an amygdala and it’s no different than the rest of ours!
What Alex does better than most of us, though,
is that he trains his brain.
He prepares ahead of time by visualizing all the things that can possibly go wrong on a climb,
and then he mentally prepares how he would deal with each situation.
He ends up then at the beginning of a climb,
not with a sense of fear, but with a sense of competence – “I can do this!”
Work is not safe…
Even without being a free solo rock climber, life is not safe.
Each day God gives us opportunities to become more brave…
to let go of control…
What might you do this week which is out of your comfort zone?
Maybe it’s taking a door hanger about the registry drive to a neighbor.
Maybe it’s taking the training wheels off your child’s bike
or letting your aging mother eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.
Maybe it’s joining the choir,
or talking to a homeless person on the street.
Maybe it’s making a stand against racism,
or maybe for you today it is letting go,
and trusting that God is here.
Be brave today.
God is here.