When I think of courageous women, I think first of historical people I’ve read about like Joan of Arc or Mary, the mother of Jesus, who were willing to give all even their lives to stand for what they believed or live out what they were called to do by God. Then I think of people I know who have influenced my life, like a friend whose husband left her for someone else and how she continued to provide for their children and learn to laugh again. She even took in all the neighborhood kids and fed them, sometimes clothed them, and loved on them even when it was discovered they had stolen from her. She continues to this day to encourage me when I am down because she knows the One who holds us both tightly in His hand.
There is another woman, a very close friend, who continues to not only trust God, but whose faith has gone up several floors in height as she waits for her home to be taken from her. She is unable to financially keep it, and yet she knows that God is so closely watching over what concerns her. She has a pure confidence that He will provide what she needs, when she needs it. Her level of joy and faith is something of wonder as I listen to her talk and watch her life unfold. Her focus is less and less on earthly things and more on the eternal, the Heavenly. She still offers her hand of help and her knees to prayer for those who need it. It’s like watching someone go up on a glass elevator as her spiritual proximity to God gets higher.
We often think that we are not very courageous, or is it that we don’t want to have to be? In regards to the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, my courage is fired up by her response to God’s choosing her to give birth to His Son. Her response was one of faith and courage that ignored the consequences she would face that would be the results to her obedience. My desire to live a good story complete with adventure, conflict, and overcoming love grows every time I read it:
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.“ (Luke 1:38)
A new women’s Bible study group has begun meeting in my home. We talked of courage and shared stories of when we had been courageous and felt God’s help, or when we had witnessed the courage walked out in another person’s life. Some in current difficulty shared how their courage felt pushed to the breaking point. Courage always includes some element of leaving. as our Bible study had mentioned. The leaving may be physical like moving to a new place, or mental in leaving an old belief that we realize is faulty. We may be leaving one job for another, or standing at a distance to allow our adult children to grow up when we want to take them in our arms like we did when they were small. Whatever the circumstances, to take the next step where God is leading or where life sometimes forces us, always requires picking your foot up from the step you are on and placing it on the next one. Like stepping-stones through a garden, you can’t enjoy the view along the way if you stay on the first stone. You have to keep moving.
Walking with God means moving along – living out where the journey leads to receive what He has and know Him more intimately. To not become stuck in one place, to avoid becoming “traditional”, you must remain fluid with God. You learn that He won’t lead you somewhere to leave you there and never move again. Walking with Him is always maturing, being challenged to change, where faith and knowledge of Him increase. May we never be called “traditional”.
I want to live a good story with my life. I do not want my life to be a dull and boring story where I have nothing interesting to talk to God about in Heaven. Do I feel fear of failure, concern for safety, sometimes take on wrong responsibility, or just wish for a safe little house with a fireplace and a deck? Sure I do! But what is growing stronger in me, sometimes by teaspoonfuls, is this feeling of uncommon courage that I’m certain comes from knowing that I don’t do this alone. My courageous friends and I are coming to know more than ever that God’s eyes are upon us, that His hands are shaping us like clay, and that His all-encompassing love and peace surround us. We are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) being built up into God to form a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. It is His work in us, not the fruit of our own efforts, but His strength woven in with our willingness that makes the next stone look secure and beautiful and we become filled with uncommon courage for the next step.
“The Spirit calls come up – away from yesterdays and past and former; the voice is clear – come up here! The Lord’s call is heard in the heart – in the spirit, and is always upward, always higher, always more!” (Shirley Weaver, A Clear Trumpet)
Where are you finding it difficult to be courageous? Are you putting the full weight of your cares on the shoulders of Jesus so you can take the next step? The view is great further up the path.
(c) Robin Lawrimore, 2011