Archives For courage

Mount Everest QomolangmaSo yesterday I talked a little bit about David and how he avoided the fear flu that plagued the rest of the army of Israel (read it here). But the truth is that fear isn’t the only thing that is contagious – Courage is too.

David was a courageous young man. When faced with a giant named Goliath, he went charging into battle confident of the result because of his faith in the God who would protect him. His actions inspired the entire army. Moments after Goliath fell the entire Israelite army charged the enemy and chased them until they had beaten them so soundly that there was basically no enemy left. Apparently there were two viruses going around. The Fear Flu, and the Courage Cold (ok, that was lame but you get it).

Courage inspires courage. It causes people to say “Oh, hey maybe it isn’t that scary.” I heard once about Roger Bannister who was the first man to ever break the 4 minute mile barrier. He did it in 1954. Up until that point it seemed like it was beyond the limits of human ability. Within months of Bannister’s accomplishment several others did the same thing. Today it is the standard for mile running competition and the world record has come in a whopping 17 seconds faster than that. So what happened there? I think what happened was that one person’s accomplishment broke a fear barrier. For whatever reason people were convinced they couldn’t do it. Once someone proved it could be done, it became common place.

Or take Mount Everest. It took dozens of failed attempts until one climbing pair finally summited in 1953. While still a major accomplishment, today more than 1500 people have made it to the top and in recent years some of the worst danger on the mountain is due to the amount of people who are all climbing at the same time. Once again, something that seemed impossible has become pretty common. Courage has opened the door to more courage.

Which brings me back to David. See years later some of Goliath’s family were still a little bit upset with Israel. 2 Samuel 21 describes at least four more giants who were all killed at the hands of Israelites. One of those who managed to take on a giant was David’s nephew. Other than a slight mention here though it basically isn’t a big deal. So what was once a pivotal defining moment for the people of Israel, a moment when it was believed that no one could possibly beat a giant, eventually became a footnote as others took on giants as well. When one person successfully slays a giant, everyone lines up to take one on. 

I’m so thankful for the people who have gone before me and proved that the impossible can be done. For me that’s church planters and leaders who have taken great risks to see a dream become a reality. In my most fearful moments I look at them and say “maybe it isn’t that scary after all.” One of my greatest joys today though is that I get to talk to others who are just starting into this journey. And in some small way I think the fact that I can share my story with them helps them to say “maybe it isn’t that scary after all.”

We all have within us the opportunity to be carriers of fear and courage. Every day we have a choice as to which one we will spread. I hope and pray that you will draw strength and courage from others who have gone first and that it will inspire you to charge ahead as well – thereby spreading the Courage bug wherever you go.

 

photo by: TausP.
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Fear is contagious

May 7, 2014 — 4 Comments

[220/365] Nuclear Fear (Explored)You’ve probably heard the story of David and Goliath. For 40 days Goliath came out in the morning and again at night to taunt Israel. For 40 days the fear built amongst the armies of Israel. For 40 days this army looked at each other with fear in their eyes hoping that someone else would take on the challenge. And then David shows up and decides he’ll take on Goliath.

You probably know that David was a shepherd, that he was the youngest of all his brothers, and that the only reason he’s even here at the battle lines was to bring his older brothers a snack. David is an unproven young man (militarily speaking). So why isn’t David afraid?

I think that all the reasons we think David SHOULD be afraid are exactly why he isn’t.

  • David was a shepherd. Unqualified right? Should he be afraid? Well, David tells us in this story that he regularly fights bears and lions with his bare hands to rescue sheep. So the shepherd thing is actually in his favor.
  • But he’s the youngest brother. Exactly. Probably too young to know what a scary situation this is. David has that youthful naîvete that makes him a prime candidate for taking on a giant.
  • David isn’t supposed to even be here though. Yep. I wonder if David was able to do what he did because he had just showed up and heard Goliath for the first time. The rest of the army had heard Goliath about 80 times by now. For David – it was the first time. While the rest of the army has passed around the fear flu, David hasn’t spent one minute sitting around talking about how big this guy is or how desperate the situation must be. He hasn’t heard Goliath bark out his taunts 79 other times. David doesn’t mess around – he hears the challenge, and then he goes after Goliath right away.

I think sometimes we give our fears too much credit. We sit around with other people who are also afraid and we talk together about how big and scary our dreams are. We overstate the risks. We invent doomsday scenarios. We wait and we wait and the fear grows until eventually we are paralyzed.

I’m trying to do things differently these days. I’m trying to be quicker. Fear is contagious. But it’s also slow. Courage sprints off the line and leaves fear in the dust. 

 Ultimately David’s courage and his lack of fear came from his confidence in God’s provision. But I promise that if David had spent as much time waiting as the rest of the army had – he never would have slayed that giant.

I suppose it’s important to say that it’s obviously wise to consult others and to gather as much information as possible before we make decisions and go for it. But it’s probably also true that it’s possible that we’ll never be done gathering information. At some point we better move or pretty soon we’ll catch the fear bug as well.

Finally, fear isn’t the only thing that’s contagious. Courage is too. More on that tomorrow.

photo by: pasukaru76
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Lucy

December 3, 2013 — 6 Comments

Tiffany Walder_0492My daughter and I have been reading through the Chronicles of Narnia together. We’re currently about two thirds of the way through “Prince Caspian.” She is captivated by the story, and truthfully, she doesn’t have to beg very hard for me to read more than we had planned. Of all the characters in the Chronicles, she loves Lucy the most.

**Spoiler Alert**  Tonight we read part of the story where Lucy sees Aslan (the Lion, who is also the Christ-like figure of the story) and finds herself in a place where she’s the only one of her company that can see him. He speaks to her and tells her she must follow him even if the others won’t. Lucy goes back to her brothers and sister and tries to convince them that they should follow her. She’s the youngest, and it’s the middle of the night – so as you can imagine it’s a hard sell. But because Lucy was once the first to lead the kids into Narnia, they eventually go along with her, but mostly because they don’t want her to be alone. Lucy leads the crew through the night down a chasm, across a river, and back up the other side – all while keeping her eyes fixed on Aslan. Eventually all the others start to see him too and are convinced that Lucy has been right all along.

After reading this passage my daughter begged once again to read more. Reluctantly it was time for bed, but she excitedly told me “I wish I was in that situation some time, following Aslan through the dark forest.”

And that’s where I start leaking fluid from my eyes.

The fact is, there will be a day, probably many, when my little girl will have to walk through a treacherous season in her life, leading the way even when others don’t believe her or think she has any idea what she’s doing. And all she will be able to do is fix her eyes on Aslan, follow his lead, and start walking.

I think as parents our tendency is to want to insulate our kids and teach them to be safe at all costs. But following Aslan isn’t always safe. So I’d rather model for her what it means to walk after him, to trust him, and to courageously follow him. It doesn’t mean I won’t freak out someday when she tells me she wants to move across the country and plant a church. But I hope I will have the wisdom to get out of the way and cheer her on.

(As I was writing this, it all sounded somewhat familiar to me – sort of a “did I write this before?” type thought. Turns out, I kind of did. Back on my old blog here almost 5 years ago now.)

 

*Thanks to Tiffany Walder for the great photo from our trip to South Africa in 2007.

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