I've commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the LORD your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.
-- Joshua 1:9
Are you the type who can't stand the thought of roller coasters or skydiving? Or are you more of an adrenaline junkie who gets a rush from excitement and adventure?
If you consider yourself to be something of a daredevil, maybe you already know that May 2015 was a tragic month for several people who shared your passion. According to news reports, a 73-year-old California man died after his parachute deployed late during his 500-foot jump from a bridge over the Snake River in Idaho. Days later, celebrity extreme athlete Dan Potter and his climbing partner were killed while attempting to parachute off a cliff in Yosemite National Park. Then on May 28, a 31-year-old woman died after plummeting 36 feet from the FreeDrop USA attraction at the San Bernardino County Fair in Victorville, CA. FreeDrop USA promises thrill-seekers a "pure free fall" experience without the use of harness, bungee cords or wires.
It's probably hard for most people to relate to such fear-inducing activities. But in a real sense, Christ-followers like you and me face intimidating challenges every day. And they're barriers that we have no hope of conquering on our own. Poverty, hunger, crime and disease are just a few examples. Since we're to serve as God's hands and feet on Earth, is it any surprise that Satan uses fear as his primary weapon against us? It's the devil who plants the seeds of doubt that cause us to ask ourselves, "What if..." That's the tiny question that leads many to seek the safety found in procrastination and delay.
Christ-followers, however, are called by their Creator to be courageous. But what does "courage" really mean? First, it's not the absence of fear. Instead, it's more about moving forward in spite of fear. Our God stands with His people. And we can be encouraged by the everyday people He's enabled to accomplish extraordinary things. We read in the Scriptures that David--an obscure shepherd boy--killed the fierce giant Goliath with a single well-aimed stone from a slingshot. This is the same shepherd boy who eventually became the King of Israel and the one God called "a man after My own heart." Likewise, the Apostle Peter literally dove into the deep end when he accepted Jesus' call to walk on water. Although he would one day deny even knowing Jesus when the going got tough, Peter ultimately became a bold preacher who led many to faith in Christ. Two books of the New Testament also bear his name.
"With God with us, who can be against us?" wrote the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans. This is more than a rhetorical question. As Christ-followers, we can take heart that our Creator is preparing us now for what will be required of us later. And whatever we fear in life, we can rest assured that we don't face it alone. In fact, it's when we're in God's presence that we're the most protected. We just need to come to our Father in prayer, listen for His response and guidance, and then obey accordingly in faith. That's how we'll find the courage to make a world of difference...even if it's making that difference one person at a time.