Friday, January 29, 2016

Where Courageous and Crazy Meet

When fresh water from melting glaciers and saltier water of the ocean come together in the Gulf of Alaska, you get this: a thin wall formed in the ocean that does not allow the two densities of water to mix.  It is an amazing sight!  This can be a visual picture of how one's worldly tainted eyes see something versus what another's spiritual, Holy Spirit-filled eyes see. One perspective is watered down by the blandness of the world while the other is full of the saltiness of walking in faith with the Lord.  Where they meet is what can be called the reality of courageous living for Christ!  This is nothing short of a  place to be that truly gives God glory.

I've been called courageous, and I've been called crazy to my face several times in the last few weeks.  Courageous, for stepping out on faith to do something that wasn't easy, and crazy for attempting to do things that a "normal" family wouldn't.
So am I a demented woman needing therapy or a courageous, faith-filled inspiration to others?
This pondering has led me to consider many people's stories I've been introduced to in recent years.  Were they courageous, or were they crazy?  Did it all matter to the perspective of the onlooker?  Was their success dependent on their being a little nutty and irrational or was it based on a deep faith based in God's Word that He could do the impossible through their lives?  Let's take a look, because I'm just as curious as you are!

First, lets consider what the Bible has to say about those who were seen as crazy.  I think about Noah.  Definitely crazy to all who looked on his incredible act of faith to take 100 years to build an ark when no one at the time had ever seen a drop of rain.  But when we look back, we see a faith-filled man who had the courage to do what seemed impossible to accomplish God's plan.
Look at Abraham.  Did his family see him as crazy for leaving everything he knew behind to go to a land God would show him, when he had no idea where it was?  Yep, we'd see that as definitely crazy. Give that man some counseling, he's as lost as a goose.  But as we see his story unfold, what an amazing act of courage to fulfill God's plan for His chosen people, from whom the Savior of the world would come.  How about Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Isaiah, Hosea, John the Baptist, the Apostles, the first martyrs.....?  In every account they were seen to have wild ideas, insane actions, outrageous plans, yet after we see the big picture, we know they acted on faith and demonstrated great courage.

Now let's go to more recent history.  My oldest son is addicted to missionary biographies.  He is inspired and is regularly telling me about Lottie Moon, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, William Booth, Adoniram Judson, George Muller, Jim Elliot, amongst dozens of others who have one common thread in their lives given for the sake of the Gospel: incredible courage and faith.  Every one of them was called crazy by many onlookers who didn't understand why they did it and for whom.  Even those who understood would critique them, try to stop them, dissuade them from being so bold to go where they went, but they served and sacrificed anyway.  Despite opposition and opinion, they obeyed, and God was glorified.

We look at these figures who have gone before us and think "Wow, what an inspiration! I sure couldn't do that".  Or could you?  I believe the reason our generation rarely sees change in our miserable sin-saturated world is because we have lost our courage.  Why?  We don't want to be called crazy, that's why.  We want acceptance, to blend in, to live it easy. We figure we'll get by with good morals, sharing our faith every once a while if we are ever so bold, and serve in the local church as long as it's not too sacrificial. Maybe a short term missions trip (that is guaranteed to be safe and give us great photo ops) can be added in to make us look extra faithful. All of these acts of service and obedience are great, but are they the BEST we can do to glorify God?  Will this type of living change the world around us in a radical way or will it just give us a good reputation and ease our conscience as being a good Christian?

Is giving your all when you answer God's call sound like this?
"Yes, Lord, but I can't handle......"
"Yes, Lord, but I will never....."
"Yes, Lord, but I can only do THIS much..."
Is this really surrendering all?

What is true courage and undeniably a faith-filled answer sounds more like this:
"I deny my comfortable friendships and will go where I don't fit in"
"I deny my creature comforts: a big house, a nice car, and nice clothes, so that I can give my all"
"I deny having a toned, in shape body so that I can be more available to the Lord and spend more time serving Him"
"I deny my hobbies and indulgences so that I can pour my time and resources into serving the Lord in His mission field"
"I deny my comfort zone- I will intentionally become uncomfortable physically, emotionally, and spiritually for God's glory"
"I deny my plans and goals for my life and will drop all of them for God's plan"

Maybe we don't want to be courageous because we haven't seen it done before by someone we know. Just reading an article or a book doesn't connect those people with our reality like having someone in our life to go before us in the frontier of courageous living.  What if God wants YOU to be first?  What if the Christians around you are waiting for someone else to take that first step of faith and YOU need to be that person?

I still lack courage to do more for the Lord's glory.  Sometimes I feel like such a coward, because I look at our family's schedule and think "we can't squeeze in any more!".  Sometimes I look at the price and think "There isn't the money for that".  Sometimes I just say "We're not equipped to do it" or "That would hurt a relationship too much".  I have so far to go.  The Christian heroes before us slept very little, endured many ailments and diseases, underwent persecution, and even lost loved ones. Yet they never looked back.  They gave their all.  Why can't I?

Brothers and Sisters, are we going to see a significant change in this world to turn to Christ if we just pray God will send someone else to do it?  What if that someone is You?  What if it is Me?

What is holding you back?  No one wants to be called crazy.  But do you want to look back on your life years from now and see your decisions as cowardly?  Will you regret taking the easy, comfortable road?  Will it be too late if you don't step out now?  Will it be too late for those who would follow after your bold example?

Will you let courageous and crazy meet in your life?

He did.

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