Be strong and courageous.
Strength takes overcoming, going beyond what you think you would normally be able to do. The dictionary has 5 meanings for strength, the second one being “the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure” (Oxford). In the past few months I have started running, a feat I would have never imagined accomplishing, let alone enjoying! I was getting into quite a little grove for a while, making 10km efforts without collapsing. It was really encouraging to notice that bit by bit I got stronger. I was able to run up that nasty hill without walking! Then I was able to run for a long while without stopping. These were evidences that surely, my body was getting stronger. But real strength, the withstanding great force or pressure, is really more about the matters of the heart isn’t it?
The thing about strength is we don’t really know how strong we are until we endeavor to do something that we have never done before. I suppose that this is when courage comes in.
Courage, defined by Oxford as “the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”. I like what Mark Twain says, “Courage is resistance of fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear”. Jesus tells us time and time again in the Bible to “not fear.” But fear really comes; It hits us in the face when someone we love makes motions to leave forever; It strikes us in the knees when we realize the car is not responding to the brakes on that winter road; and we feel pummeled when we realize what really needs to be said could potentially change everything in a treasured relationship.
I guess that’s why we need to be strong; to withstand the force of fear.
The Bible talks a lot about being strong and courageous, especially as the people of God (the Israelites) were moving into their new land. God told them that they were not to adopt the sexual practices of the place where they had come, nor were they to adopt the sexual practices of the people where they were going. They were going to make a completely new way. And God was going to tell them how.
Be strong and courageous.
Do something new, apart from what you know, apart from what you have seen, but don’t worry, I will tell you just how to go about it.
That’s the clincher isn’t it. God was with them. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them. For the Lord, your God, goes with you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). We are not abandoned to navigate all on our own.
Even if we want to be both the driver and the navigator, even if we think “I’ll be fine with this one”, He does not abandon us.
So, when we start a relationship unlike any other relationship around us and don’t know how to maintain boundaries and still be alive in who we are; When we jump into a great adventure, but have no idea what the end will hold or even what the middle bits look like; when we desire to do the thing that is completely different from what we have left behind us, and is completely different than the world around us; when we find ourselves in the midst of this life that requires both strength and courage. We can know we are not alone.
we can be
strong and courageous.