Tuesday, March 30, 2010

True Courage

Most of the time when I am running a little low on courage, I turn on Gladiator or Braveheart and I am inspired. Today, I have a different source of encouragement. I watched a documentary on lions the other day. A male lion came into a pride and ousted the older male lion and took over the pride. Now the lionesses “belong” to this new lion. The problem is that the new lion will kill all the lion cubs because they belong to the previous ruler and he cannot have children of another lion’s seed in his pride. In this documentary one of the lionesses had 2 cubs and sought to protect them by leaving the pride. The male lion then went after the cubs and tried to reattach the lioness to his pride.

It was riveting to watch this huge lion stalk these young cubs. It is not often that you see a male on the hunt. Most of the time, the hunt is reserved for the lionesses. As the lion attempted to strike and kill the cubs, the mother comes from nowhere to defend the cubs. Now the male lion out weights the female by 50%, but the female lion sent the male lion packing. This kind of courage is inspiring. This mother let nothing get in the way of protecting her cubs.

Recently, Anna and I both had the stomach bug, at the same time. This was an incredibly miserable experience. Let me remind you that we have three children who need to be taken care of: 6, 4, and 6 months. My wife reminded me of the lioness above. She found courage to fight through the illness and take care of her children and her husband. I have to tell you, I have never been more proud and impressed with my wife. You must understand that she has a fear of vomiting. The stomach bug is her personal version of a nightmare. And she battled through. She has never thought of herself as being brave, but in that moment she proved that she was. William Wallace and Maximus have nothing on my wife.

My wife’s sister one time said that bravery is enduring with style. I like this definition. We all go through things in our lives. Do we endure with style or whine our way through every bad moment? John 15:13 reminds us that the greatest type of love is the willingness to sacrifice your life for a friend. I have thought often about giving up my life for those I love. If the moment came, would I step in front of the bullet, would I lay down my life for another? I realized that this was a futile exercise. The reason is because; I so rarely sacrifice in the little ways every day. I do not participate in the progressive laying down of my life. This is what made my wife’s sacrifice amazing. She was not in danger of death, yet she laid down her right to be sick for her family. The thing is there are lots of people that do this sort of thing every day. Most of them go completely unnoticed or unappreciated. Hebrews 10:38 speaks of people, “of whom the world is not worthy.” These are the unnamed people who sacrifice in small ways every day. These are the people whose names will never be lauded in books or sermons, but who will be celebrated in Heaven with shouts of joy. These are the ones who endure with style.

My wife would tell you that she did this only by the strength of Christ. I think this is the point of laying down our lives. Only when we do this can we really experience the strength of Christ coming through. Every moment and every breath on that day was soaked in the active reliance of the power of Christ. Is she stronger now? You betchya. She now knows what it means to rely on Christ for every moment. Many of us, say we do this while really relying on our own abilities or strengths. We actively seek to avoid the situations in our lives that force us to rely on God and on Him alone. Therefore, we become crippled by our own abilities. We become crippled by our own lack of trust. We become crippled by our adequacies.

I read through Hosea recently and came across a verse I like. Hosea prophesied against Israel for prostituting themselves with foreign gods. I wonder in what ways we prostitute ourselves today. One of the ways modern and postmodern culture does this is by the worship of self and self sufficiency. Hosea 10:12-13 states, “Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors…” (NAS - emphasis added) Consider what this verse suggests. The root of their sin was trusting in their own strength, not God’s. We need to understand that our control is an illusion and true life is lived when we lean completely into the arms of Christ. This is what my wife did; this is what I hope to do.

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