Strength

strength

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that fear grows in dark places deep within when I’m not paying attention.  I particularly find this in the context of relationships. The husband and I have a rough day and I turn suddenly I’m on the bridge of the Enterprise yelling “Shields up! Prepare for battle! I’ll take the conn!” A small offense turns into an insurmountable obstacle and I fight hard to control every detail and make it all work out the way I see fit. I’m sure you can see that there are obvious flaws in this strategy. I do this out of fear. I’ve been hurt before and rather and than take the risk of being hurt again, I grab the guns and dig in.

Thankfully, there is grace that comes along and shines a little light on it, revealing to me the reality of this monstrous thing that’s been choking me slowly. I read a quote from Francis Frangipane this week that explains it perfectly. “We pray, “Lord, change me.” To answer that prayer, He will often allow circumstances or people to offend us. Our fleshly reaction illuminates the specific area where we need to grow. Thus, the Lord initiates change by offending the area of our soul He seeks to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity but become Christlike in it.”

The truth is that fear and self-preservation rarely lead to positive outcomes. True strength is being able to stand in spite of fear and love anyway. True strength is in moving beyond the things that paralyze us and give of ourselves even when it hurts. Meg Cabot said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

Today I encourage you to live! Take the risk and do that thing that makes you afraid. Go all in! If something offends you, let it go. If you’re hurting, pray. There is a Comforter who is more than able to turn ashes into beauty and He wants to fight that battle for you. He wants you to overcome. March on into the fray armed with His strength and you will find your freedom.

“Oh my soul, march on with strength!” Judges 5:21

Courage

My kids and their cousins ready to conquer the world of canoeing

My daughter is working on an essay about Courage. She asked me the other day to name someone I found to be courageous. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anyone, it was more that I can think of so many acts of courage that happen daily. To name one courageous person seems difficult in the light of so many who have given their lives in sacrifice for others or who face great odds to accomplish great things.

 

Honestly, I didn’t think too much more about the subject until this morning when I opened II Samuel chapter 4:1 “When Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his courage failed, and all the Israelites were troubled and dismayed.”  Then dropping down to verse 4 “Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was a cripple in his feet. He was five years old when the news came out of Jezreel [of the deaths] of Saul and Jonathan. And the boy’s nurse took him up and fled; and in her haste, he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.” 

 

Later in the chapter, we find Ish-bosheth napping (not exactly an act of heroism) and he is killed upon his bed. Poor Mephibosheth is crippled for the rest of his life because of one woman’s fear which proved to be completely unfounded in the end.

 

Fear causes us to do dumb things. It can cripple us if we allow it to. We fear what others think of us so we do nothing or we hide. We fear rejection so we don’t connect with others. We fear being hurt so we put up walls around our hearts. We fear failure so we keep our ambitions to a minimum. We’ve heard it said that the only thing we should fear is fear itself. Maybe there is an element of truth to that. When I read II Samuel 4, it is pretty clear to me that the results of fear or the lack of courage led to destruction and death.

 

So what is real courage? I think David gives us a pretty good example. In I Samuel 30, David and his men came home to find that their wives and children had been taken captive. David was “greatly distressed” (verse 6) “But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” Then he did the most courageous thing of all, rather than reacting blindly, verse 8 “David inquired of the Lord, saying, shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them? The Lord answered him, Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all. 9 “So David went…”

 

Over and over again, we find David in overwhelming circumstances with enemies coming after him and armies surrounding him. Each time we see the same words, “David inquired of the Lord” True courage is found in true faith. David strengthened himself in the Lord and knew that without the Lord, he could do nothing. In each situation he waited for the voice of God to speak into the circumstance and then he acted in obedience. Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

 

Courage isn’t just the absence of fear. Courage is the knowledge that despite the circumstance, God has is under control and His plans are good.

 

Lord, let my first reaction to every situation be to inquire of you. Then give me the courage to do what you tell me to knowing that You are good and You will never leave me. I am completely secure in Your hands and completely able to accomplish whatever you set before me with You leading the way. Thank you that you choose to do great things through vessels of clay and dust. Thank you that you can be glorified in any circumstance when we are courageous enough to get out of your way and walk in obedience.  I love being yours!