A few years ago, I was on an airplane, thumbing through a magazine when I noticed an invitation on one of the pages: "Writing Contest—Win $1000—Send your story of courage!" A more detailed prompt invited people to write about moments of overcoming fear and adversity. I was intrigued. I asked myself that if I were to enter this contest, what would I write? Considering that I was in the midst of a flight, I thought of the many places that I had traveled—by plane, train and automobile.
However, I realized that those weren't really so courageous. In fact, every once in a while my trips leaned more to the side of cowardice in that they were a way to escape the grind of home and facing the daily demons. I realized for me that the courage wasn't traveling to the unknown, but rather waking to the known every morning and living into the day as God would want me to live. I dealt with daily anxiety for a number of years—fearing what could go wrong at home or work--but mostly fearing that I would fail, experience shame and not be "good enough." Considering that I have spent too many days timid and scared, I am thankful for that repeated command in scripture to "fear not." The ancient people of Israel would be writing a different essay on courage than me. However, I believe what would be the same for us both is that we can be strong and brave when we rest in God's presence and saving, transformative grace.
Dear God, there is a lot to fear. May I find strength in the words of scripture and the uncountable people through centuries on end who have found courage to face the day, whatever it brings, because of You. Amen.
Isaiah 35:4-7a (NRSV)
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.