In 2005, my husband and I went on a mission trip to Zambia, Africa. On the final days of our trip, we took a mini vacation to Victoria Falls. As you can imagine, seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World was impressive. However, it wasn’t the magnitude of the beautiful waterfalls that left the biggest impression on me; rather, my husband’s courage.
Some may call it foolish (and at the time, I was saying the same thing) but, my husband bravely took on the challenge of the “Gorge Swing.” Don’t let the name mislead you, this “swing” is really a 394 foot death-defying plummet (think Empire State Building) attached to a bungee cable that hopefully catches, allowing you to swing back and forth (312 feet) in pendulum fashion before eventually being lowered into the bottom of the gorge. (What they don’t mention on the front end is that you then have to climb out of the gorge and hope the baboons that live there don’t attack you!)
I am pleased to report, my husband survived both the gorge swing and the baboons.
For someone who is extremely afraid of heights, (so much so, I couldn’t even watch him jump) the fact that he had the courage to do this and conquer his fear is very impressive to me!
What’s puzzling though, is this same man (who had the courage to literally jump off a cliff) breaks out in a cold-sweat if you ask him to pray out loud!
Why do spiritual things make us so uncomfortable that we lose our courage? When faced with them we hesitate, avoid, shrink or fumble?
Where do you lack courage?
Are you reluctant to embrace God and accept salvation through Christ? (John 3:16)
Are you averse to praying in public?
Do you avoid admitting openly that you are a Christian?
Are you terrified of taking an unpopular stand on issues that are not politically correct?
Are you hesitant to publicly acknowledge Christ through Baptism?
Are you afraid to share the news of salvation with your family, friends, co-workers, or strangers?
Are you unwilling to be obedient to God’s leadings and promptings?
One of my favorite books of the Bible is the Book of Esther because it not only features a female heroine but, is a story of immeasurable courage. Esther was the Queen of Persia and one might think that being Queen carried certain protections; but, Esther was hiding her Jewish identity during a time of grave persecution. An order had been given that ALL Jews in Persia be killed!
Esther faced a very difficult decision- either she remain silent and hope the King would never discover her secret identity and save herself or she reveal the truth and beg for mercy for herself and her people. If this was not challenging enough, simply coming into the King's presence without an invitation could mean immediate death.
Every turn for Esther carried terrifying possibilities!
Yet we see, Esther musters every ounce of courage she can amass --
"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." - Esther 4:16
In an act of true heroism, Esther bravely goes before the King and her life and the Jew people's lives are spared.
It is apparent by her actions, that Esther realized her security did not rest in her title, her possessions or even her husband; rather her security rested in God. She embraced that she may have been placed in her royal position for just such a time and she didn't allow fear or complacency to stand in her way!
I believe complacency (not fear) is the biggest hurdle we face to exercising true courage. We would rather not step to the edge of the cliff because we convince ourselves that things are fine just as they are!
When we are complacent we have no place for courage.
Ambrose Redmoon said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
So what is your “more important?”
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” -2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
May we remember that there are nine accounts throughout Scripture of individuals being raised from the dead to include the resurrection of Christ himself! The very same power, to not only give life but to restore life, is the very same power that is available within us!!
God's living power makes us bold, fearless, brave and full of courage for any situation we may face!
So, grasp courage by knowing your why, embrace God's power and take the leap to action- trusting that God will not allow the cord to break!
Father, thank you that you lovingly provide for us in every situation whether spiritual or physical. That your power lives within us as Christ followers and that through you all things are possible. May we understand the truly important things of this life, to have courage to act and not allow fear, lies, or complacency to hinder us from your kingdom.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. –Ephesians 6:10