Three Ways to Step into Courage Today
When I was in third grade, I wrote a letter to invite the governor of our state asking him to come and visit my elementary school. It was an election year and I had seen ads that showed him in a classroom, just like mine, talking with students, about the same size as me. I hand wrote the letter, my mom found the address and we put a stamp on it together. I biked down our gravel lane and slid it into the mailbox.
It never occurred to me that courage was required of me in all of this. It only occurred to me that an invitation was needed.
In my third-grade mind what I saw on the television was a leader in relationship with his people. I saw students spending time with a guy who happened to be in charge of the state of Missouri.
The governor’s office received my letter, written in the newly learned cursive of an eight-year-old, and he wrote back, telling me he couldn’t make it but he really appreciated the invite. I was sad for a moment and skipped off to play with my sisters the next. Two weeks later I got another letter, explaining that he’d be able to pop by on his way from Jefferson City to St. Louis for an event. He’d be delighted if my offer was still open. I brought the letter to school and announced to my principal that the governor was coming.
It never occurred to me that courage was required of me in all of this either. It only occurred to me that we had the right context, we were a school and the governor was in the business of visiting schools.
I had to give a speech to introduce the governor in front of the all the students, the faculty, visitors, and several news outlets. They had set the microphone at the front for someone the height of an adult. I was still wearing size 6x as an eight-year-old and filling it out on good days. I walked up to that microphone, notecards in hand, and promptly walked over to my dad, who asked someone to adjust the microphone.
It never occurred to me that courage was required of me in all of this either, because my focus was on the message I was charged to deliver.
It wasn’t my message. It was only a message about who our visitor was and what his role was in helping all of us learn and grow and live safely in our families and our communities. If it would have been about me, I would have been shaking in my Mary Janes. But my only job was to be a vessel, to be a vessel today, pointing to the real star of the show.
Today, I want to encourage you to be a vessel and be a courageous one. God builds wild courage in us constantly for the things we think we cannot do. Think of all the courageous things you do most days – you show up places when it’s easier to stay home (or in quarantine life, you stay home when you really want to show up somewhere!), you believe in a Savior no one can see and follow Him in your place and time, you grow and you learn by reading, by listening to a friend, by doing small things faithfully.
Do you mess up? Do you slink back? Surely. We all do it. But think of the things it never occurred to you required courage and let’s take a step together to engage in that courage further today.
Courage challenge #1 – Be courageous in invitation
Who can you invite into your life further? What relationship is God calling you to connect in a little closer? To be courageous is to be vulnerable and there is no vulnerability outside of relationship. God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to have courage in Joshua 1:9, but not outside of the assurance of their relationship with Him:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
There is nowhere God will take us, and no invitation that we can send that is sent outside of the assurance we have of the love and kindness of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Even if the answer to the invitation is no, Jesus’s love fills those spaces and we can step back out in courage to invite again or send a new invitation.
Courage challenge #2 – Be courageous in context
God sends us to fill certain places and spaces in our lives. You fill yours and I fill mine. Occasionally, we get the gift of overlap. But I really only need to be courageous where God has called me, in my context here. I might be courageous with my neighbor next door, or the therapy client who comes to see me, or on the board for our local domestic violence resources. What is your context? How can you lean into the community and local body of Christ God has placed you in?
Joshua and the people of Israel had their context. God said to Joshua earlier in Joshua 1:2-3,
“Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”
We just arise and go over the Jordan. This earth is God’s land. We show up in our context in our sneakers and in our heels and God does His thing through us.
Courage challenge #3 – Be courageous in relationship to the message
When we are asked to step up to the mic, it almost always feels set way too high. But God has handed us the notecards. God gave us people to ask for help. God sent Jesus with the only message we’d ever need, His message of hope and life in the middle of the battlefields of this world.
How do you deliver the message in your daily life? Is it in your profession, being hope out there in your way? Is it with your kids, teaching them the love and care of Jesus Christ for a hurting world? Is it as a neighbor, a friend, a loved one, a researcher, a voter, a policy-maker, a leader, an advice-giver, a community member, a committee member or chair? The list could go on. Consider where you share the message of hope in Jesus currently, and consider one way He is asking you to be strong in His courage in this season.
Joshua 1:16 holds not only Joshua’s response, but the whole nation of Israel standing with Him:
And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.”
You do not go alone. Remember, courage is not courage outside of relationship, because we are never outside of the relationship and strength of Christ. And you are never outside of the courage of this faithful cloud all around you, each of the rest of us reading this, cheering you on.
Go send that invitation, stand in your context, a bring His message. Be courageous in all the places and relationships it never occurred to you that courage was required of you. And watch Him show up and do His thing.WLI