On Monday, while walking the empty halls of the building that housed our now closed Christian school I felt disappointment, sadness, anger, and . . . failure. The closure of that school is so disappointing that I have been tempted to give up, to walk off, to throw in the towel! That day, while I was in thought, prayerfully aware of God’s Presence, but not speaking; I sensed a word that from the Spirit, one He whispers to me often recently – COURAGE!
Courage is not necessarily shouting down your opponents or charging into a fight. More often, courage is making the choice to do the right thing, to live the right way, to keep focused on the right course regardless of critics and in the face of circumstances that appear to have gone wrong. Courage refuses to react, choosing instead to respond.
In Luke 19, there a story about Jesus making time to meet a man of short stature named Zacchaeus. As He was passing through Jericho, He took note of a man who was literally up a tree; stopped to talk to him, and invited Himself to dinner. Zacchaeus was a tax collector; a social outcast because of his cooperation with Romans, and most likely a crook, collecting more than Rome wanted and pocketing the difference. Spending time at Zee’s table was not a great way to burnish your reputation, but Jesus did it anyway- courageously! He saw a man hungry for God and took time to point him to life.
What makes that story even more remarkable is the realization that He was just a few days from the Cross when He met the little man in Jericho! The suffering, the rejection, the weight of humanity’s sin was waiting for Him in Jerusalem. He knew that yet He still courageously kept loving the least, seeking out the lost! Oh, to be like Jesus.
Your life is going to have situations that take you places you do not want to go.
People you love will fail you, sooner or later.
Because you are human, you will make some mistaken and/or bad decision and have to live with the consequences. Will you collapse, or will you ‘take courage?’
In Hebrews 6 we find this assuring declaration, “we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence. This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (NLT) It is our privilege it is to rest in Christ Jesus, to put those things we did not foresee before Him, and to know that He will be our faithful coach, One who guides.
Are you anchored in the unchanging Christ? Settling ourselves in His Presence will keep us from reacting in panic when the things come at us for which we are not prepared. Christians can run to Christ for solace and rest. In Him, they find courage to take the measure of the day and to move ahead, living for His purposes.
Read this passage from Hebrews 6:19 again. “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” When the chaos of life threatens to overtake us, Christ offers to hold us secure, to give us a strong point to hang onto – His salvation, our hope!
Take Courage, Christian. How?
- Pray, even if only with sighs or quiet waiting, sharing the burdens of life with Jesus.
- Worship, not superficially, but from the heart, renewing faith in the love of the Father.
- Inform your mind with God’s Truth. Reading passages of hope and affirmation will be an antidote to the toxins of fear. ( Suggested passages – Psalm 37, Ephesians 1, Romans 8)
- Practice good self-care. Exhausted people are often fearful people. Even Jesus took time from ministry to rest and find renewal.
- Choose to do one faith–filled, forward focused thing today.
The word from the Word points us to the example of Jesus. As you read it, my prayer is that you will ‘take courage’ and do the right thing, choosing the right path.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! “ (Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message)
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and
who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt