Main topics in this post:
- Walkie-talkies as a way to enhance family walks, give freedom to explore, keep connection and have fun!
- Balancing Freedom & Safety
- the Value of Communication
Getting out into nature is a natural way for children (and adults) to exercise, learn and have fun. It is also a great chance for relationship building, times to walk and talk with each other and times to be quiet and away from distractions to have time with God.
While we love hikes in the woods, we had a small issue, one of our children loves to run. Our solution was that he could run until he couldn’t see us anymore (and thus we couldn’t see him) and then he needed to wait. This sort of took the fun out of scouting and exploring.
This past week we took several hikes into new areas, but with a very important change. We brought walkie talkies! This allowed our “runner” to scout way ahead, and yet be in constant communication. He could ask what to do if he came to a fork in the path. He could give us updates on rough ground ahead or when he saw a snake, etc. When we did take different routes, we were able to quickly identify and fix the situation. Everyone had a blast.
Yes, there is still a danger and if something bad happened it would take us a while to get there, but when balancing safety and freedom, we saw this as a good balance on giving more freedom and personal responsibility. We were in an area where I really doubt anyone would be waiting to hurt a child and our son has shown himself to be quite responsible, especially when he is keeping us updated on what he is doing and seeing.
We also had plenty of time to walk together as a whole family, or to be in smaller groups or two or three, etc., but having this freedom to let them run and explore really added to the family time.
This got me thinking about the balance of freedom and safety and the value of communication
Freedom and Safety
For the past 2+ years the message of “safety” has been blasted into our lives. We don’t even have a TV and we have heard it repeatedly. (I really feel for those who have been driven into a state of isolated fear by this constant messaging of fear and control.) Benjamin Franklin is credited as saying, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Like my wife and I needed to evaluate freedom vs safety when letting our children run through the woods, our society could benefit from evaluating how much of our freedoms we are giving away for “Safety” and how we may end up with neither freedom or safety.
It also helped me to greater appreciate that our only true safety is in Christ.
Our child may be right by our side and get injured or have other dangers. In the same way, this world may fall apart. Tyrants may rule. We may face isolation, persecution and death. But God is still completely and entirely in control. He is sovereign over all things. It is only in him that we have either true freedom or true safety.
While we may like the feeling of control, only God can truly protect us and our children.
The Bible speaks often about resting in God as our fortress, rock, protector, provider and savior, however I will take an extreme example. (See also our post about Psalm 37.)
In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Even in the worst case scenario of death (of us or our children), we are told not to be afraid. Death is still only limited to this life (which is so short). Our fear (speaking of a holy respect) is to be of God who has the power of eternal life and death.
This same God, who can “destroy both soul and body in hell” is also the one who gives, “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-26).
Our true safety will never be in our wisdom or strength, it is only in God giving us his own righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ!
Therefore, we are called to live in freedom, not in seeking our own safety. When considering that freedom, we are also reminded in Galatians 5:13-14, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
As we gave this freedom, we greater appreciated the power of communication. We knew that our children were “safe”. While we couldn’t know what would happen with their next step, we could know that for the moment they were doing fine. They weren’t laying at the bottom of a drop off. No one had grabbed them. They were fine and having a great time. And we could relax and enjoy the hike.
On the flip side, this communication gave much more freedom and excitement for our children as well. When they encountered a fork in the road, they could ask us which way to go, and could know that we would be following them and eventually catch up. If they did get a little lost or go the wrong direction, they knew that we could call them back and be reunited. If they were to have a problem, get hurt, etc., they knew that they could call us. This communication brought constant connection, which in turn gave them more freedom, peace and joy!
God does not need a walkie-talkie. He always sees us. He not only sees us, he knows and is in complete control over what is around the next corner of our lives.
However, we need a “walkie-talkie”. We need communication with God. With all of the changes that are happening in our world and in our lives, my prayer has been following Solomon’s lead, “Lord, give me wisdom to know and wisdom to follow your ways for my life.” I am increasingly seeing my inadequacy. What should I do? When do I need to make sudden changes, when I don’t and can’t know all of the information and how it will turn out? Lord! Give me your wisdom and help me to follow! I am like a little child. I need connection with my Father!
As I have communication and connection with God, through His Word and His Spirit, things make much more sense and I am comforted and encouraged by his character, presence and promise in my life.
(I have found a systematic reading of the Psalms to be a powerful way for God to speak his character, presence and promise into my life.)
My children have greater freedom, peace and joy when they are connected with me. My greatest freedom, peace and joy is when I am connected with my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
A walk in the woods gives great opportunities to build relationships, with others and with God. It also gives time to face unknowns and to see that our only safety and true freedom is in Christ and to reflect on our need for him.
A few closing notes:
- Again, the trails seemed to be fairly safe trails. We weren’t sending a young child to a crowded area of strangers by himself.
- Technically, we weren’t only using walkie talkies. We had one GMRS radio (licensed) which fostered clearer communication over longer distances (though we were never that far away).