Courage… according to Webster’s is this; the ability to do something that frightens one, strength in the face of pain or grief.
In the past week, three different people told me how courageous I am. In reflecting on these comments I realized it’s only in admitting my weakness that I can embrace any sense of courageousness. It’s when I drop to my knees and cry out for God’s grace; be it self pity, the next step, or something bigger that I have any ounce of courage in my bones at all. It’s doesn’t really matter how big or small the courage is, what matters is knowing I don’t have what it takes, but God does. So I lean in, dig my well deeper, and ask God to breathe into me His living grace.
So much of life we spend reacting to the past or running from it, instead of just accepting and forgiving what was and no longer is now. It’s only when we open up what the mystics refer to as “heart space” do we have a great capacity to love and experience true freedom. To no longer live in the fear of being heart broken, rejected, abandon, or ignored. To risk it all for love, because at the end of the day and the end of life it’s love that matters most. Love always wins. It’s love that brings meaning to life. It’s love that gets us through the tough times, trials, pains of life, and leads out out of the dark into the light of Christ. Because life is some tough stuff even with faith. In the book “The Road Less Traveled” by Richard Peck the first sentence says, “Life is difficult”. Unbelievably true.
Yet, we’ve all failed in love and life in trying to fill our hearts with counterfeits like material things or always doing. The sheer act of busyness that never stops to see, hear and accept what is now. What does hold space in our hearts are relationships and the identity in being who God created us to be – simply His Son or Daughter.
So you risk in faith to reach out and love the ones who are different than you. The ones that don’t look like you, think like you, act like you, or live like you. You go beyond yourself and do what is uncomfortable. Learning to get comfortable in the uncomfortable. It’s not easy. It stretches you, it pains you, and recreates you. You become clay in the potter’s hand and fashioned into a new creation. This kind of love transforms you and your heart into something new. You learn your heart was never made to be small, but larger than the life you currently live because you were made for more.
The story is so much bigger. It’s one of adventure. A journey and quest into unknown territory and depth of one’s heart. Driving right into harrowing heights and blinding turns. There will be many peaks and valleys along the way. So you can white knuckle it through this journey we call life or develop a character of resilient faith. Faith that holds fast and firm, and faith that’s not to proud to drop on its knees and beg for the Lord’s grace. Faith that cries out, but never gives in or gives up.
It’s in our weakness we come to know courage and what it means to be strong. Because I realize I am in fact weak. Very weak. There is power in the act of surrender, but not giving up or giving in for the sake of love. It’s only by His loving grace that I am strong. Sometimes we become so stuck in staying in one place & space that we become paralyzed and don’t move. Or, maybe we’ve run from place to place wondering how we got here, because here is really no where at all and lacks meaning.
We’ve been playing it safe for so long we come to see “safe” is only another word for regret as the song by Matthew West says in “All In”. Regardless if we’ve been playing it safe or running to be safe, untimely there is no growth in the spiritual life because there is no authentic vulnerability in living life this way.
So stepping into what is unknown scares us to death. Because something must in fact die. We must die and take a risk in faith. But it’s going all in to the deep end where true love lies. For there is no greater happiness in life than to love and be loved. That’s living life fully. So maybe faith and courage is becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. Stepping into the unknown, stepping into what can’t be seen, ultimately stepping into what is completely hidden from sight.
Maybe, that’s why Jesus sent His disciples out two by two. To have a friend and companion for the journey to lean on, to say I’m scared to, and to say will you love me and not leave my side when you think it’s this way and I say no, it’s that way. To accept those parts of me that need to be refined and re-chiseled by God’s love and grace because they are wounded parts that I’ve been rejecting instead of accepting.
Life was not meant to be traveled alone, and yet we isolate ourselves out of fear. It’s love that conquers all fear. Love never wounds, it only heals. Love that wounds, is not love, but counterfeit love. Because true love, authentic love always, always goes outside of oneself and ones ego, it truly wills and sacrifices for the good of the other and it never keeps score. And that takes courage. Courage to go all in for sacrificial love.
And yet we know love never fails as scripture tells us so;
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love never fails, but it absolutely takes courage to love authentically as Jesus showed us in his birth, life, death, and resurrection. Are you willing to love like Jesus? To lay down your life for the other?