BravePosted on Aug 19, 2013 | 6 comments
Courage is not comfortable.
I am admittedly predispositioned to anxiety and fear…constantly battling the “If the worst can happen, it surely will” mindset. I have stood in awe of those who are my opposite…including my husband…who looks upon life with a steady gaze, declaring…”Everything will work out just fine.” While every personality has its strength and its weakness, a fearful individual has a much larger propensity to miss out on life with its entire spectrum of thrilling experiences that bring growth, opportunity, knowledge, and wisdom. I am drawn to brave people…perhaps instinctively hoping there courage will rub off on me. And in my interaction with them, there are a few things I have observed. They have faith in Someone greater than themselves Who can work even trauma or tragedy out for good, they have made peace (in some measure) with the possibility of failure, and that failure, mistake, or setback is not the end of their road, merely a detour. Most importantly, they have learned to live…or at least have been willing to live… through times of great discomfort. They have neither been afraid of a wound nor paralyzed by injury. I have watched loved ones and acquaintances live through situations that only the courageous would endure…pushing faithfully through the pain of shattered marriages, prodigal children, religious upheaval, the risk of starting and maintaining a business and occasionally the collapse of that business, the grueling training of an athletic endeavor, the victorious mastery of a skill not easily learned, saying yes to a calling or a ministry or a mission field that is notably fraught with challenges, running head first into harm’s way to save lives as a bystander or a first responder… and the list goes on. Though they had times of rest, they were not glued to their easy chairs…and though they were unsure or inexperienced or overwhelmed, they were not perpetually living under their covers, shivering with fright.
I often repeat this scripture to myself, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. And it has been a great source of comfort to me. But, it always has been in a rather narcissistic way…directed to my own unsettled situations and my daily challenges. When I get over myself for a minute, and actually look at the scripture in context, it brings even greater encouragement. For isn’t this one way in which our courage is built? By observing great men and woman of faith face off to an impossible challenge in God’s strength alone? Consider Joshua in this text. He had just been given sole leadership over more than six hundred thousand men according to the count given to us in Numbers 1: 45-46. “ So all those listed of the people of Israel, by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and upward, every man able to go to war in Israel. All those listed were 603,550. “ (Gulp) And though I am no scholar, that number does not seem to be inclusive of the woman, children, and sojourners from Egypt that were present, either. I mean, would you want that job?! “Good morning, Joshua. Today you take the leadership and responsibility for over a million people who are notoriously fickle and prone to pride, conflict, rebellion, and idol worship.” Though we are given no written account that Joshua, though trained and prepared, was trembling under the weight of his responsibility, we can assume that indeed those feelings were present with him because of the very words the Lord spoke to him…”
“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:2-10
This does not sound like words spoken to someone feeling at ease. This sounds like whispered encouragement to a person in great discomfort. And do you know what the the very next verse in this text says?
“And Joshua commanded the officers of the people…”
He rose to his feet and took the challenge.
He may have been pushing through his fear, trembling with the weight of responsibility, but he chose to believe and obey God…which rewarded him the reality of watching the the river Jordan stand up in a heap, allowing the Israelites to pass over on dry ground…and gave him the gift of being an instrument in the miraculous defeat of Jericho where the victory was won with a silent march, a trumpet blow, and a mighty shout! This is not an experience the people hiding in tents back at the camp had. They missed it. Joshua didn’t it.
I have three areas/circumstances in my life at present that could master me with debilitating fear…and I confess, there have been times I have let them. That fear can drive me into self-protection mode in an attempt to stop feeling pain. And in that corner where fear has driven me, with nothing but myself for solace, there is no love…no light…only more torment. It is no escape at all.
But, “(His) perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18) …everyone’s… and it can give us the courage to take one small step forward…our eyes chins lifted up, our eyes on him…though our hearts might be racing, our pulses pounding, our knees weak, and our souls trembling. Brave is not ever being afraid. Brave is living hope-filled in the face of many reasons to fear. Brave is moving forward while wounded. Brave is very much alive, though feeling great discomfort. Brave means we will be there, someday, when the river parts and the walls come tumbling down.