Wednesday’s Word: BRAVERY!

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I have spent most of my life in the shadow of the Cowardly Lion of “Wizard of Oz” fame. He was afraid of everything. He spent most of the movie working himself into a state of anxiety over all the things that could go wrong.

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I get him. This is my “me too.”

Yesterday, I got a call that a family wanted me to come to the hospital to pray. The hospital is in Cleveland—somewhere I’d never been before—and the sky was threatening to dump a deluge of hurricane proportions. In my heart I was ready to run out the door, but in my mind I was seeing all the things that could go wrong.

I asked a few trusted friends to pray for me, keyed the location into my phone, and with fear and trembling walked out the door.

I don’t consider myself brave. I have to draw on other resources: God, the prayers of friends, the encouragement of my husband to do the things I would otherwise shrink back from.

Courage is not the absence of fear. According to Dorothy Bernard: “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

Many times in the movie, when the Lion wanted to run, his friends would lock arms and walk beside him into the fearfulness of the moment. God promises to never leave us or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5ff). So there’s One who is always on our side, and at our side.

But don’t discount the friends who either by their presence or encouraging words will go with us as well.

When the situation calls for bravery you cannot muster on your own, who will you call on to help get you through?

And by the way, the hospital visit was great! There were only occasional droplets of rain. I found the hospital with no problem (parking was a little trickier, but accomplished). The family was a joy to be with. And I came home blessed and encouraged.

 

Nehemiah Devotions: Chapter 2, Day 2

Then I was terrified, but I replied. (Nehemiah 2:2b-3a, NLT)

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We learned at the end of the first chapter Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. It was an important position. He was a public figure and was expected to present himself accordingly. He took his responsibility seriously and consistently presented himself appropriately. Until now.

The burden he carried had become so great that the weight began to show on his countenance. And the king noticed.

Would this be interpreted as insubordination, or dissatisfaction with his job? Neither would be acceptable to the king.

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At this point Nehemiah stood at a threshold. His response would leave him comfortable in the lifestyle he was accustomed to or throw him into the unknown as he followed God’s plan.

Nehemiah demonstrates great courage, and teaches us that courage doesn’t mean we won’t fear. We read here that Nehemiah was terrified. But in spite of his fear, his faith in the one who called him was enough to enable him to stand up and proceed across the threshold into the unknown.

Has God called you to step forward in faith? Are you afraid? Find your courage and confidence in the one who calls you.

Claim Paul’s words as you keep to the journey: And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

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Courage to Wait

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13-14, ESV)

I don’t know about you, but when I think about waiting, the first thing that comes to my mind is not courage.

Boredom, frustration, inconvenience, yes. But not courage.

Waiting can take strength and courage.

Perhaps what you are waiting on is way more than a long line at Walmart.

Perhaps the news you are waiting for…or the person you are waiting for…or the call you are waiting for makes your fear-full, or weary, or alone.

Perhaps you have been waiting a long time…so long that no one else gets the ache in your heart.

God does and if you are waiting in him, you will see his goodness. Draw your strength and courage from that…from him.

PRAYER: God, waiting isn’t easy. I know your people waited a long time for the Messiah to come. I’ve been waiting, too. I want to see your goodness. I need strength and courage to keep waiting in you. Thank you. Amen.

Lenten Learning Curve

The Lenten Learning Curve (and for some reason, I want to keep typing Leaning instead of Learning…hmmmmm) has felt like a roller coaster this year.  So many ups and downs, I have just barely been able to hold on.  But I don’t want to go through Lent, or any part of life, with my squeezed tightly shut and my hands white knuckling the lap bar.  There is no joy in that, only prayers for the end of the experience.

I have never considered myself adventuresome or courageous and I have been befuddled when others tell me how much they appreciate those qualities in me.  For example, they marvel at how “comfortable” I am with getting up before a crowd and sharing my heart.  I crave those opportunities.  I feel fully me when I’m preaching or teaching.  I can’t imagine not doing that. 

That being said, there has been a vicisious battle with fear this season of Lent.  I have wrestled a deeply subconscious battle up to where I could identify it and why it had such a strangle hold on me.  I have been confronted with my reticence and reluctance to move forward towards publication in my writing.   I have had to deal with relational issues resulting in painful confrontations.  Part of me would love to press rewind and pick a different path, but I know that the lessons would just come from a different direction and who knows how severe the learning would be then?

So while the lessons have not been easy, they have proved to be immensely beneficial, life-giving, and even freeing.  And while I’m not ready to throw my arms in the air and scream wahoo, I’m at least willing to admit that I’m thankful for the lessons learned.

Yesterday I faced the largest of those lessons.  I went and registered for the last time.  The deputy who worked on my paperwork was nearly as excited for me as I was.  A couple times he mentioned that he didn’t get to do this (finish someone’s paperwork) very often…um, never.  He asked if I was going to have a party.  Several people have offered to throw one for me.  Not only is the dark cloud lifted, but the fear that somehow it never would happen is gone too!  And the still small voice in the back of my heart whispers, “Will you trust Me now?”

In an endeavor to be more trusting, I took a couple steps.  I applied for a scholarship to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.  And I got it!  My reaction when I opened the email was such a mix of laughter and tears.  Then I decided that I would apply to different publishing companies to be a reviewer of books on my blog.  And I was accepted by one company.  I can barely describe how encouraged and excited I am. 

So I’m learning and leaning.  Trusting more.  Maybe I haven’t gotten to a full-fledged “Yes!”, but I’m at a very decent, “Okay!” with God.  It’s not perfect but it’s progress.  And that’s good for me.  Not bad for a recovering perfectionist.  Not bad at all.