Sunday after services, our kids are dismissed with their homework (God-time sheets) and an unusual "token" to overcome: a sucker. But not just any candy. This lollipop possesses bugs (yes, dead crusty insects) in this see-through yellow sugar encasement. Now, I'm not an overly cautious person; I've done some rather crazy things in my life: jumping out of a plane comes to mind. Even so, the whole psych-up motivational activities that seem to thrive in youth groups rarely carry any significant change over into real-life experiences. Instead, let's challenge people to act in a way that ripples out into eternity. Talk to a new neighbor and invite them to church. Call a grieving widow and take her to lunch. Visit the elderly and broken-down. Encourage the depressed. Forgive and love the angry. Invite the outcast.
Our culture seems to translate bravery as a concoction of danger, adrenaline and stupidity. Christ-following courage does require us to overcome our fears, but we do so because of His purposes, not our own glory. When He asks us to be brave and take risks, we understand that we aren't exempt from danger--quite the opposite--but the peril comes with great eternal reward. Following our intended objective will push us out of our comfort zone, but it also takes us to a place of sacred relationship with our Creator Father. And we take consolation in the truth that He does not leave us on our own, but faces our fears with us, equipping us with armor and speaking words of life into our spirits (Psalm 56:3-4, Eph. 6:10, 2 Timothy 1:7).
I can only speak for myself, but the things God has called me to do require excessive bravery on my part: homeschooling my kids, inviting new people into our home, reaching out to widows and orphans, sacrificing time and energy for the least of these. Most of what I do is not overly comfortable for me. In large crowds, my pulse will quicken and deep breathing has gone AWOL. Meeting new people fatigues me to the point where I need about two hours of silence afterwards. Despite the numerous times I've trekked this path, every semester before I start a new Bible study or a new class, I get nervous. A day of solitude, writing in a cabin in the woods sounds like a blissful dream. As much as I adore being in community, people do drain me. I try to be intentional because I know that's what God has called us too, and I truly do love being around other women of faith. We aren't here to be reclusive. We are here to live in fellowship with others.
Ask the Lord what He needs you to overcome: it may have nothing to do with my issues. Perhaps being brave includes more silent listening time away from people. Perhaps being brave translates into singing in a crowd at church. Perhaps being brave looks like accepting that less-than-impressive job just so you can provide for your family. Perhaps being brave means forgiving the person that offended you. Even if you don't know yet, He does. Ask Him and receive His answer and know that He will equip you with the strength to walk in courage.
I Corinthians 15:58
And as John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."