You see that van? That van is a knot in my stomach.
It was the summer of 2002, and I was climbing into a Range Rover somewhere in the bush of Kenya. This required quite a bit of courage, you see, because the van that was overturned on the edge of the road? Yeah, that was our van. It was so scary. The van began to fish-tail due to the wind and speed of our vehicle, and our driver struggled to keep all four tires in the ruts of the dirt road. I suppose this was normal to our wonderful Kenyan hosts, but it was totally abnormal for us newbie Americans. In an instant, the van spun out of control and flipped onto its side. There were no seat belts. One of the women on our team was sitting on a wooden chair in the “middle”. We were all bumped and bruised – some even broken, and completely terrified of riding in another vehicle the remainder of our mission trip. Then, a month later, I rode on an open jeep tour of the Rocky Mountains. I was 18 that summer. Talk about crazy fear.
Thirteen years later, a giant knot still forms in my stomach over the van-flipping-over-in-Africa experience. It is inexplicable. But when I consider all the other brave things God has asked me to do, another spectrum of emotions are brought to the surface.
Maybe you have felt these too, when called upon to be courageous. Insufficient, powerless, lonely, dumbstruck, fearful, unable to take the first step…am I striking a nerve? We tend to take these emotions and run wild with them. Maybe it’s a sign that we’re not “up to the task”? Or we’re “not ready”, and it’s not the “right timing”?
John Wayne says this about being brave: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
Today, as I write these words, I’m saddling up on a new horse called Trust. Sure, my saddle of courage is worn – Glory, hallelujah! However, God asked me a long time ago to share what I write, and I simply failed to follow through. I wasn’t brave enough to trust Him with my words. Meanwhile, he’s allowed me to experience some really great, glorious, flat-on-my back things on earth while following Him. I have become a mother of twins, left a career field that filled me with passion and purpose, gone on the debt-free journey with my husband, and started a business. I want you to know, friend, that you’re reading this as a result of reckless abandon. God has blessed my history, and He is present now as the Holy Spirit breathes fresh wind and fire into my moments. The person I am today is vulnerable, trusting of Jesus no matter where these feet may take me, and joyful. These words might have described me previously, but when journeying into uncharted waters, y’all know this is like being refined by the fire every blessed day.
Consider what emotion has a hold of you, the one that is keeping you from stepping out in courage. Now, consider what God is calling you to courageously do. Is He asking you to say YES or NO? What is this – to being a better son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, or friend? Does it involve a life change? What about doing something no one in your family has ever done (AMEN)? Is it stopping a habit, hurt or hang up? Could it be starting a journey toward an unknown destination?
I believe Christ provides us with the courage to keep moving once we have started. However, it seems to be true, no matter who you ask, that the first step is overwhelming. Those steps look like this: choosing to get out of bed, to get dressed, to do the actual work. Those steps hold such power, such weight. Pray that God will provide you with supernatural strength to rise, to put your nose to the grindstone, and to be consistent. Remember that God is for you, not against you. He will always be with you, and although you must move, you are not moving alone. Where we humans are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Andy Stanley, in his book Next Generation Leader, says, “Courage is the willingness to move in a direction in spite of emotions and thoughts that bid you to do otherwise.” Truly, there are times when the supernatural power of Christ is all that makes movement possible. He is the One who makes you brave. This requires utter vulnerability (ahem). Get ready for some glory to shine from Jesus here!
There are literally hundreds of men and women I could name that have been brave, and faithful to what God is asking them to do. In God’s glorious way, He has placed me in the presence of so many brave people in the past few years. To exclaim humility is such a whisper compared to the ways God has worked through this community. These friends have inspired me to become more alive, awake, and free. They have helped me be braver.
So take a deep breath. What is that one thing that just isn’t going away in your heart? Maybe you have suppressed it for so long that you’ve forgotten the color and the shape of it. Spend some time with God and seek his purpose for you, here and now. It might involve loving a person more, saying no to someone or something, staying, leaving, learning, or unlearning. Draw strength and beauty from the Lord. No matter where you are, God promises us this in Isaiah 43:1 – “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
Won’t you come with me, on a brave ride on the horse named Trust, and follow Jesus as His kingdom comes here on earth?
Share with me the ways God is calling you to be brave – here and now. Lord knows we all need some encouragement!
(Oh, and yes – this video will certainly get those juices a-flowin’, too!)