Confession time: there was this lady in my church who for many reasons had become my own personal nemesis. As long as we managed to stay away from each other, we were just fine. But God had another plan for us, and He asked me to reach out to her and love her. Love her? Of all the people You could have picked, God, really, her?
I went through a gut-wrenching, soul-searching time and I finally gave in. That is when I learned about strength and courage. For it takes a lot of courage to do what God tells you to do sometimes. Even if you know God is with you. Didn’t the Israelites know that God is the One who delivered them out of Egypt and was taking them through to the other side; yet God Himself reminded Joshua (chapter 1) quite a few times that he ought to be strong and courageous.
Courage is not easy–that’s why it’s called courage. When it comes down to it, courage/strength is nothing but an attitude of mind and heart that causes someone to be determined to push through not regardless but in spite of obstacles, and pain, and possible repercussions… Courage is that simple. And that powerful.
Strength is not something we’re born with; we’ve got to develop it, one situation at a time, one decision at a time, one action at a time.
And there are many things that can undermine courage: time passing, physical and/or emotional pain, death, atmospheres, people’s reactions to one’s resolve. And there are many things that can certainly feed courage: en-couraging comments, smiles, kindnesses, obvious progress, physical strength…
Much of this, we can’t really do much about. It is what it is. But when I was involved with choosing to learn how to love that seemingly unlovable woman from my church, I found out that there are many things that have everything to do with me personally that can fuel my courage or strip me of srength. Like:
The more I found reasons to complain about that person, the less I even desired to work with my feelings toward her. And yes, there was a lot to complain about, but that is almost irrelevant. What my heart and mind were saying about her was not. It made me weak in my resolve to reach out to her.
~calling evil what God calls good
Adam and Even questioned God’s motives in the garden. Why would God withhold the knowledge of good and evil from them? What kind of a God is that, anyway? And what is wrong with that tree? Why can’t we eat from it? Surely, God doesn’t know what He is talking about… and thus begun our descend into deciding for ourselves what is right or not, and the mess we find ourselves in today. My “friend” to be was careful with her words, and I called her cold and distant. God called her careful with her words. And it caused my courage to whittle to nothing every time I knew I was supposed to go to her and speak with her. “Well, she won’t answer anyway. She is so slow to speak.” And I judged her for it. And it made me even more resentful that I was supposed to love her, even less willing to develop courage.
~remembering all the wrong things
I remembered her faults and I magnified them. You’d think she was a murderer, adulteress and evil mother all at once. She really just was human, and tired at time. I remembered her bad habits, tired looks, faulty finances, burned brownies. I forgot to remember her incessant giving to the brethern, her staying up at night to nurture her sick child, her qualities as a hard working person, her ability to use wisdom in organization… I remembered all the reasons I did not want to like her, and I lost every bit of strength I had in the process.
~make accusations against God
He just did not know what He was asking me, because if He knew me and what makes me tick, He surely would not have pointed me in the direction of this sister. He put me in the wrong church at the wrong time. He just messed up, and I was the one suffering for it. Did He not care? Why would I be courageous for a God like that?
David did not act and think the way I did. When faced with his nemesis, he did not complain but dealt with the enemy head on. He took the Word of God and called things as they are according to the Word, not according to his physical eyes. He remembered who God was and His power, and he concluded that this challenge was not because God was harsh, but because God wanted to give him the victory. So he ran toward his enemy and defeated him.
I eventually ran toward the woman in my church and loved her unto joy. And it was wonderful.
S is for STRONG
Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. 1 Samuel 17:51
Cultivating Thankfulness with Ann Voskamp
#631 The song of a bird in the early morning
#632 The excitement in my belly when I read God’s Word
#633 The privilege of prayer
Sometimes, I link up with any or all of these wonderful writers: Hearts 4 Home, SDG, Hearts Reflected, WLW, EOA, Things I can’t say, Growing Home, Play Dates with God, Monday Musings, Hear it on Sunday, Inspire Me Monday, Tell me a Story, The Better Mom, a Mama’s Story, Into the Word, In and Around Mondays,OYHT, Gratituesday, Titus2Tuesdays, Extraordinay, Lessons from Ivy, Denise in Bloom, Sweet Blessings, Faith Filled Friday, Finding Joy, WholeHearted Home, Mom’s the Word,