It’s fitting to talk about courage in the shadow of bucking chutes, which just happens to be where church was held Sunday morning at Homestead Rodeo School. Chad Chambers challenged us to commit to living a life of courage and devotion to the Lord. For a group of men who are courageous every time they nod their face, it seemed ironic that the topic would be something they are so familiar with. But like many of them, my courage is often used in, for lack of a better term, trivial situations.
I will stand in front of a bull, but will I talk with a stranger about God’s work in my life?
I will get back on a broncy colt, but will I continue a conversation with my wife, apologize, or take leadership in our relationship?
I will take a shot for a bull rider, but when it comes to standing up for those who cant stand for themselves, where is my courage then?
It may look courageous to ride bulls, race cars, or jump a bike (most every boys first sign of courage), but courage is shown in what battles we fight as well. In Joshua 1, God’s message to the new leader of Israel, 4 times he tells him to be courageous [hb. ‘ames] as he leads the people in the conquest of the promised land. The reason for their courage is always the same: “for the Lord your God is with you…” (Josh. 1.9)
When Judah is staring down the barrel of Sennacherib’s, the King of Assyria, war machine, Hezekiah tells the people: “Be strong and courageous [hb. ‘ames]. Do not be afraid of discouraged becasue of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him…” (2 Chronicles 32.7) He has just ransacked the Judean countryside leaving destroyed cities in his wake, but Jerusalem is not to fear. Why? “…for there is a greater power with us than with him. Whit him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chronicles 32.8)
To Israel, God says:
“Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen [hb. ‘ames] you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41.10)
God’s promise to be present, alongside, and with is what gave his people courage and with God a promise made is the same as a promise kept. The New Testament gives us the same promise:
- “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” — Jesus (Matt. 28.20)
- “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” — John (1 John 4.4)
- “Take heart! I have overcome the world” — Jesus (John 16.33)
The circumstances for these verses are no less dire than above. Jesus is leaving his disciples to change the world and he reminds them of his presence. John and the Church are facing heresy, controversy, and suffering, but Jesus is with them. Jesus is promising the disciples that they are going to be in the cross hairs, but he is with them.
In times of great decision, God calls his people to courage knowing that He is active and working. When divorce looks like an easier option, courage is needed. When cancer is discovered, courage is needed. When bullying, bankruptcy, Alzheimer’s, separation, unemployment, or unexpected debt comes, courage is needed.
It is the men who make-up with their wives who display courage. The father’s who ask their son’s for forgiveness who take courage. The men with integrity who own the issues at work who show courage. And in those times, God says: “show courage because of who I am.” I forget that He is with me, and that is when I best display my cowardice.