Sunday mornings find me sitting around a table with ten to twelve women considering what it means to chase after the heart of God. COURAGE was our topic this week. I write to uncover what COURAGE means to me. Courage is: not living stuck but moving forward, doing it even if afraid, choosing to not be offended even though I have every right to be, stepping outside my comfort zone, facing the giant right in front of me, slamming the brakes on the need to perform, treating time as a treasure - to be savored and appreciated, not being afraid to confront when necessary, admitting when I am wrong, being confident, agreeing to forgive, daring to love well and deeper, taking risks to dream big, offering grace, having faith even when twenty one men have been beheaded because they were Christians, looking back and embracing what God has allowed in my life, speaking up, listening well, waiting, trusting that God is near, sovereign, kind and good, respecting God and not taking him lightly, enduring suffering by leaning in to hear the whispers of the One who knows and loves me well, not being intimidated by those who want to make me look foolish.
When David came to the camp of the Israelites, he found them cowering because the giant, Goliath, mocked God and intimidated them. David stepped up and slayed the enemy with the first of five stones because he "believed God was bigger than the man he faced. He believed God was real and with him." (Jennie Allen) He saw the jeering offense as being against God and outrage gripped him. He stepped up and did the thing even though it appeared impossible and unreachable to those around him.
Surrounded by brave ones, I ponder their battles: The one who perseveres in the midst of deep loneliness... she who lost many babies through miscarriage... he who lost his father and read his eulogy in subzero temperatures... the one whose mother died when she was a teenager and has grown into a beautiful woman her mother would have been crazy about...the mother whose son broke her heart...the mom with a son in the ER longing for answers... parents who lost a dear one to suicide...one who has taken in a young man in need of solid love, guidance and lots-of-food...the sister who grieves the loss of her best-friend...the daughter who yearns for her mother's love...she who had a violent father and even now can't quite dare to trust or believe that God is love...the one who longs for freedom from depression...the son who aches for his dad's approval...the daughter who has been kicked out...the one who cries out to feel "good enough" and "known"...she who suffers every day with chronic pain...one who writes, hesitatingly, carefully, beautifully revealing her painful childhood... Each stands tall to courageously face every new day.
If only we could seek to view our sorrows, our incredibly painful trials, as offenses against God, not against us. While stepping through the mounds of unbelief, discouragement and fear, might we simply believe he is real and trust him? Exercising a deep courageous faith as invisible as he is may appear foolish. But can we stand strong? He alone gives what we need to keep getting out of bed with hope in our hearts and a fresh joy rising as the sun peeks through the trees bringing early morning light.
We live afraid. Everything feels big, icy, cold and immovable.
What are we missing out on because of this fear?
Come, rest with our suffering hearts that we may feel assured that you know.
Let us hear your sighs, see your tears, feel your nearness,
And rise up to let nothing, not even our sorrow, mock the living God.
Put the pebbles in our hands and fuel the strength to keep throwing until those giants called unbelief, fear, doubt and anxiety shrink and cower in the corner, knowing they have encountered the living God. They can no longer thrive. Let us hasten to action. May the victory be yours.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7