Courage is the enemy of discouragement. Encouragement is the best friend of courage.
Courage is not something that I am good at. I am usually the one running away from anything, especially those things that are hard to do. My follow through sucks. I may start something, but if I feel any resistance, I immediately cave in.
Cam often has to kick my butt, and help me get moving again, my girls do too. My girls have grown up with a woman who is scared of shadows and failure. Funny thing is that I am also scared of success. What???!!! I don’t understand it myself. They say that a daughter learns from her mother, what a woman is and will follow in her foot steps. I have not been the woman that I want my girls to grow up to be. Fear has been my best friend. It has held me back, turning me aside, so that I won’t see what needs to be done, teaching me to ignore the plight of others, especially if there might be back lash from helping. The back lash could even be as simple as gossip or rejection.
I have not had the courage to pursue my dreams, speak honestly to people whan what I have to say might be considered harsh, I have dug in my heels when I know that God is asking me to go in one direction and I want to go in the other. I am like Jonah, I turn tail and run from God’s mission for me. I have been in many whale bellies, but I don’t seem to learn the lesson that I was meant to learn for long. Or I stay in the belly of the whale for far to long, and I look a little worse for wear. I definitely don’t have the gift of perseverance. I may start something, but never have the courage to fight to keep something going when it gets tough. I have always believed that I am a starter of things, but not a finisher. I think that is just an excuse now. It was fear talking and not God. My enemy comes in the form of fear a lot. It is familiar to me, so familiar it is like a place of safety and “home”. I know without a doubt that this is not what God wants for me, but it is so easy to stay there. Instead of running to God, I am often running to fear.
Fear is a terrible master. I stifles you, keeps you from being all that you were created to be. It makes you self-centered. You can’t look beyond yourself and see that you are needed for far more than you allow yourself to be. Fear is a dream killer, it keeps you locked up in a prison that makes Alcatraz seem like a play house. It locks you up in your head. This prison goes with you everywhere, you can not escape it without the incredible power of the Almighty. It is hard to describe fear, panic and anxiety to those who don’t live under its torture day in and day out. Fear causes sickness, both physical and mental. I believe that it also causes spiritual sickness. It is hard to sit locked up in fear and see others who don’t seem to be plagued by fear living a normal life, able to face new situations with seemingly no fear. I know that I sit there and wonder what it feels like to live without the master called fear looming over you, ready to pounce if you get out of line. What is it like to put yourself out there without expecting the worst that you can imagine. Our enemy fear doesn’t want us to escape his grip, his talons are dug into our hearts and souls, damaging them and excruciatingly painful.
Fear of anything other than God is a lie. I believe it is a sinful way of life. Why? Because it is a life lived without trust in our Maker and Savior. It proves that we don’t trust our Creator. This is why this life seems so awful, so wrong. It is wrong. It even talks about what a life of fear looks like to God. He has given us the ability through Him to live fearless. He asks us to do that, live fearlessly, trusting in Him and not in our feelings.
1 John 4:7-19 (MSG) God Is Love 7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. 11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! 13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. To Love, to Be Loved 17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
Fear keeps us from experiencing the full extent of God’s love. God wants us to understand His incredible love for us, because He knows that it is in His love that we will experience unbelievable freedom. God doesn’t want us to remain locked up and unable to live fully. He came to give us life, abundant life and abundant love, bathed in love, so full of His love, that we can’t contain it. So much love that if we move it splashes on those who are around us. Because of God’s love, we will love without any hindrance. We won’t fear putting ourselves out there. We won’t fear rejection, because it won’t matter, because we are loved by the only one that really matters. You can’t be selfish within God’s love, God is not stingy in His love, He pours out His love on us so much that it overflows our ability to contain it. God is that good. So can we understand and live in God’s love if we live in fear?
Isaiah 8:11-15 (MSG) 11-15 God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said: “Don’t be like this people, always afraid somebody is plotting against them. Don’t fear what they fear. Don’t take on their worries. If you’re going to worry, worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies. The Holy can be either a Hiding Place or a Boulder blocking your way, The Rock standing in the willful way of both houses of Israel, A barbed-wire Fence preventing trespass to the citizens of Jerusalem. Many of them are going to run into that Rock and get their bones broken, Get tangled up in that barbed wire and not get free of it.
Here it says that God took a hold of Isaiah, a prophet of God and told him not to be afraid. I guess he was afraid for it says that God spoke strongly. God was adamant, don’t be afraid. He also said that if you must be afraid, that He was the only one to fear. God is the one who has control over your life and your death, He is the only one worthy of judging someone. He created life, and He beat death, through His Son. He is the only one worthy of our fear. But fear like awe, not scared fear. God talks about how he feels about fear and what He will do because of it. God is serious about how He feels about fear.
God also within these verses talks about how He is the one to go to when you are afraid, How He is the only one worthy of our trust, that He is completely trustworthy. There should be no fear when we look to Him. I agree, there should be no fear when we live life as Christ followers. However, I still live in fear most times. I don’t know how to get free, and maybe that is the point, I can’t do it. Maybe only God can free me, and I have to let Him rescue me. Maybe I can’t rescue myself at all. Maybe my struggling to rid myself of my fear, my trying to rescue myself is really struggling against God. Maybe He is proving to me my desperate need of Him. Maybe He is proving to my soul that it is impossible to free myself, but that it is not impossible for Him to do it. I wonder if He is asking me to relax, breathe, and trust that He is good, and know that He is in the process of rescuing me. Maybe He is saying to me like He did with Joshua, “do not be afraid”.
Joshua 1:9 (MSG) “Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”
God took Joshua on a mission to conquer all the nations in a new land, so that God could give it to His people. This adventure was worthy of fear, and yet God says don’t fear, I am with you”. He is telling Joshua that it will be scary, but that He is in charge and that He will win this battle for him, all Joshua needs to do is trust and lead God’s people on this journey. God was about to make miracles happen, He was about to show His people who He was. These people had not experienced what their parents had in their parents and grandparents rescue from Egypt. They had not seen God at work, His overwhelming show of His power, His greatness and His love for His people. God gave Joshua the incredible privilege of leading this people on this adventure. Joshua must have been afraid of his responsibility to the people, this must have been why God repeated this phrase, do not fear many times in a short period of time.
Matthew 10:26-39 (MSG) “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. 28 “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands. Forget About Yourself 29-31 “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. 32-33 “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you? 34-37 “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me. 38-39 “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
God knows that most of us have some degree of fear. I think that He knows that it is the very nature that mankind got in the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t built-in us originally, God didn’t put it into us. Adam and Eve were confidant in their relationship with God, and because they were confident in that love, they were able to walk completely naked with God, not just clothesless, but I believe that they were open and free to express anything with God and each other, they were not guarded or shut up in any way. It was only after they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit that they thought that they needed clothes, and they felt like they needed to hide. Before that there was complete openness and trust. I think God misses that kind of intimacy with us, and that deep down that is what we crave. This is the kind of life that we were built for. How do we get free from this fear, I don’t know. I am still in the process of learning to trust God. I know I do not trust Him completely yet. Maybe I will struggle with this all of my earthly life. But I believe that it is in the struggle that we will find God. If we are willing to struggle and rest in His ability to rescue us, that He will continue to reach out to help us. I think that if we just cave into the fear and let it take over, He is a gentleman enough to wait till we are sick of our fear. He is ready to help us the moment that we ask Him for help out. The struggle is the proof that we don’t want to stay there, locked up in fear. So it seems like an oxymoron, that we have to struggle to get free, and yet we also have to trust and rest in the knowledge that God can and is freeing is from the prison of fear. I guess it is an oxymoron, but that is ok.
Proverbs 19:23 (MSG) Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.
So I believe that to have courage is something that you do, not because of the lack of fear, but because you do it even though you are afraid. Real courage is doing something even though you are afraid.
I have God-given dreams to live and a mission to carry out, and so I need to get down to the business of doing that. I need to live my life, fully aware of God and trusting Him completely. If I do I will see the miracles that He wants to show me. He wants me to see that He is still in the business of miracles, and that He is mighty beyond my imagination. I have fear, but I am trusting that He is rescuing me from it. He is breaking me out of my self-imposed prison. I will trust Him with me. He loves me. Praise God!