Isn’t it funny how the things that are the most difficult for us are often the things that Jesus leads us to face. He is relentless in His pursuit of us and our hearts. He is also relentless in His desire for us to be COURAGEOUS. That’s what I am going to be meditating on and asking God to show me… where I can be more courageous. I haven’t been in the Word much lately and this morning as I opened it and read the beginning of Joshua I realized that the Lord stated to “be courageous” or to “have courage” 4 times in one chapter!!! That obviously means that following God will require us to be brave, to face our fears, to look into the face of danger and sometimes suffering and move through it, safely reaching the other side.
Often times in my past and now, my mind and heart reject this opportunity by obsessing or focusing on delusional things that “could” happen, but haven’t and on difficulties in relationships that are “presumed” but aren’t actually proven. These things have served as a distraction from my growth and can make me ineffective, even paralyzing me at times. I can become paralyzed by fear or paralyzed by making a decision at all. FYI…failure is not final and the real tragedy or mistake is not trying at all and taking no risks. Thankfully years ago a pastor brought attention to this in my life as well as one of my mentors (who said it wasn’t uncommon for her either). Basically, in the past (and sometimes now), I borrow trouble and heartache because reality is so painful. The issues may be very possible and I may be right, but the Enemy uses these things to turn up the noise and make it more difficult for me to filter what is the most important thing to listen to in the moment. It also has stopped me from fulfilling my purpose in that moment. RIGHT NOW is where life is, RIGHT NOW is where love and opportunity to grow is. RIGHT NOW is what God has called me to. We can run around, fret, and obsess about what people think and what could happen which is delusional (not based in reality) because our reality is too painful. A mentor and counselor once told me that God gives us so much grace, but He does not give grace for tomorrow or yesterday. This means that we are able, capable, and have the stability (by His Spirit) to handle today and all its battles, but when we go worrying about tomorrow and the “what ifs” or living in condemnation from the mistakes or doubt of yesterdays decisions then we fail, big time. Everything starts to fall apart because we aren’t meant to be there.
I was told by another mentor (I’ve had a few over the years because God has been such a faithful coach) recently that he liked that I was a very “real” person, real about my strengths and real about my weaknesses. He said I was a realist and don’t do well with phony and superficial things in life. He also shared with me that the more definition my soul gets eventually someone won’t like me…and that’s ok. The part where he said it’s ok, was really powerful for me. I am a reality person. I gravitate towards very authentic people, people who suffer, conversations about heart issues, I want to face problems in relationships and deal with them to experience freedom and growth, I want to face my own flaws and weakness so I don’t carry them around forever and I always want to be honest with God and others. I was told once to “absorb the suffering”. I’ve become so much less afraid of trials and difficulties, and have actually come to expect them. This is how we are made strong (in our minds, hearts, and bodies). Suffering makes us stronger. If someone would’ve told me 10 years ago what we’d be carrying or what we will have gone through, I never would have believed them.
I have been a fearful and anxious person since I can remember. I had anxiety about leaving my mom and anxiety about disasters, death, and not being loved. I thrived from security and things I could trust and hold onto (which was very rare in my life growing up). I guess that’s partially why I’m so protective and close to my kids. The more I know, the more prepared I feel. The more prepared I feel, the less caught off guard I will be. This is the dialogue I have had with myself throughout my life and it’s how I’ve tried to feel in control of situations so I won’t be hurt or so I can avoid pain. However, my life has turned into a journey of the unknown requiring more and more trust and faith in God and less and less security, except in Him and His goodness (which truly is the only real security there is). Control (and sometimes even preparation) is just an illusion. My children’s days are not in my hands. At any moment, everything can change for any of us. Our way of life, our country, our job, our identity in our titles, our health, our family – it can all change in an instant. Then, we will find out what we’re made of. The greatest hope that I have found is that God is so patient. This is amazing to me because I am so impatient. He works on us over and over, presses us, refines us, and heals us. Do we really want to refuse healing?? Do we really want to be the same person??
I am completely amazed at how far God has brought me and how much courage He continues to enable me to have. He only asks that I step forward to take His hand. He has asked me to be brave in relationships and refuse to give insecurity or unforgiveness a place. He has asked me to accept pain and injury from others and not pretend it didn’t happen, but to forgive as He has forgiven me. He has asked me to sit in large meetings filled with professionals and be a voice for my children (often times having to push back and ask for what my boys truly deserve along with advocating for their safety, dignity, and education). He has asked me to do the same in rooms full of medical professionals. He has asked me to face the reality that I will not have my youngest son for as long as I had hoped on this earth. He has asked me to look into the eyes of my other son and walk alongside him during great suffering, struggle to communicate, raging, chronic pain and illness. In in it all…teaching them both how to maneuver through this life lacking many things and avantages that others have. He has asked me to accept and face the reality of rejection by some family members and abandonment by others. He has asked me to face isolation at times as well. He has asked me to face the brokeness of my past, the ugliness of my pride, and the doubt in my heart. He never condemns me or shames me (and if that’s what you hear, it isn’t God talking to you). He says “Come, let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18. He wants to reason it through with you. Spoiler alert: He’s always right. Any of my ways that have been rooted in HAVING to know, impatience, trying to find and make my own way, fear, doubt, control, or even apathy have all been destructive in my life.
The biggest thing he asks me to face is TODAY: God is calling me into deeper waters that require more bravery from me than I feel like He’s ever asked me to have. I have had a heavy heart for the past year and half that things will get harder or that a great challenge is coming. If I’m being honest, I don’t know if the Lord is preparing my heart for my little boy to go home to be with Jesus, OR the possibility that He is preparing my heart to continue on and joyfully care for both my boys with all of the new things that are coming…in faith. Both (after all we’ve been through the past year and what we have to face each day) will require tremendous bravery on my part! God is also calling me to trust Him in new ways about the future of both my boys (Matthew’s life and significant struggles as well as Luke’s struggles and new growth and independence). The reality that I’ve seen that I will be caring for my boys for the rest of my life has, at time, overwhelmed me. I’ve always known this, but I didn’t know what things would come. We will not always be around, and I often think of who will do what I do for them? Again, borrowing trouble! I have to do my best, but reject unreasonable fears when they come. God is also calling me to step bravely into situations where He wants to use all the gifts He has given me and all the things He has been developing in me. My identity always remains in Him. “Lord, make me brave!”
I’m so naive still to think I’m on my own. In Joshua God asked him to be courageous or brave, but ALWAYS paired with the fact that He is WITH him and will NEVER leave him, and has already given him the promised land. This doesn’t mean with, like when we think of someone just being next to us. This means (to me at least) filled with, empowered by, comforted by, and carried by Him. God is always working to get us to change our perspective. He has also provided His church, the Body. The hands, feet, heart, mind, and voice of God (through other believers) is here with us. I have walked through difficult times as a Christian with fellow believers, but am aware now (but still accepting sometimes) the brokenness that we all have. We all need healing, we all have flaws, we are all at different maturity levels in our walk with Jesus. We need grace towards one another and sometimes accountability. We need to push each other to grow, call each other out sometimes in love, and weep with one another when we fail, because just like Jesus is so patient with me (while also pushing to grow), so we need to be patient with each other. He’s capable and faithful to give us wisdom when we have no idea what to do and He is just as faithful to convict us and reveal to us our flaws that are hindering us and possibly harming others. Are we brave enough to face these things?? I LOVE LOVE LOVE how REAL and AUTHENTIC my God is. It doesn’t get more real than the good God of the universe giving up everything (His only Son)to chase down my wild, cowardly, selfish heart and draw me to face the reality of my sin AND turn me around and give me the best, most adventurous life, filled to the brim with love. When I see the Cross and His perfect love and justice collide, it compels me to be humble and COURAGEOUS. I hope today you will DO something brave and face the hard things so that you can become ALL that He made you to be as well as a FORCE for the Kingdom.