originally posted March 9, 2011

It is the battle face of a soldier ready for whatever will come his way.  It is the gritty determination of a woman in labor focusing all her energy in one direction to bring life into the world.  It is the man by the graveside, burying his wife, and determined to keep living because it is what she would have wanted.  And it is the tear silently rolling down the face of the one who is just trying to get through the next moment.

Courage has many faces.  It isn’t always the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of courage.  It isn’t always the hero coming to save the day.  Sometimes it is.  But sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes courage looks a whole lot more like the face in the mirror than it does like the hero in the movie.

Sometimes courage is choosing to breathe through the unexpected moments rather than giving immediately into the possibility of fear.

And sometimes courage is walking away from a dream because God is saying, “Not right now.”

Sometimes courage looks a whole lot different than we expect.  Sometimes it is walking a slow distance away from the source of the deepest fear, simply putting distance rather than tearing out of there like your hair was on fire.  Sometimes courage is not doing the thing you most desperately want to do.

Sometimes courage looks different than we think.

“Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give htem, and you shall cause them to inherit it.  And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.'” –Deuteronomy 31:7

Sometimes courage is the choice to choose hope rather than dismay.  Years earlier, Joshua and Caleb begged Moses and the people of Israel to take the promised land despite the sight of “giants,” despite their fears.  They proclaimed loudly the goodness and faithfulness of God–but the people did not listen.  And Moses chose the wilderness over the promise.

Yes, it was courageous for Joshua and Caleb to stand against the people, against the leadership of Israel.  But what strikes me more is the courage it took to keep hoping, to keep believing in the goodness and faithfulness of God as they trekked for decades in what amounted to giant circles.  It wasn’t just the speaking that showed courage, it was also the faithful obedience to the leaders God had placed in authority over them.

And little did they know that one day their courage would be rewarded.

Sometimes courage is choosing hope rather than dismay.  Sometimes courage is the choice made to keep going despite the fogginess of the path.  And sometimes courage is asking God the hard questions–He may not answer, but He sure does appreciate the asking.

And sometimes the strongest, most courageous thing we can do is to be like Mary who so often “cherished these things in her heart.”

Courage has many faces.  And it just might be that sometimes courage looks a whole lot like you.

photo by Lori Morris

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