“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Billy Graham
The wildflower fields are brown except for a few fading blossoms. Stopping to enjoy them, they seemed brave to me.
I know they are just flowers, but wandering in their midst the last few chilly days, they quietly delighted me.
I snapped their pictures and wondered about a new longing I’ve had – the one to be brave, courageous, to whisper boldly and be strong. In Him. For Him. Because of Him.
The desire stretched its way across my heart again as I stood on the path. I told God, “I want to be like Daniel in the lion’s den.” Then a thought came uninvited. “What about being like Jesus on the cross?”
Fear rose up in my heart, and I said, “Wow Lord – looks at this beauty!” And then I snapped another picture and started walking fast as if I could somehow leave that thought behind me.
But the desire and the question would not leave me alone.
I decided to explain things to God. “Father, I want to be brave, full of courage and endurance, valiant, bold, fearless, great-hearted, confident, determined, unflinching, compassionate, merciful, and intrepid for you. Maybe we could even throw in a little pluck and spunk and grit for good measure. But Jesus – if can’t I be like Daniel, how about Esther?”
God was quiet as I stood waiting for the wind to calm so I could get another photo. I didn’t sense His disapproval nor His approval – only His patience which equaled love to me.
Unsettled in my heart, I went to the house and opened my Bible. Sitting down to read I asked God to show me what He meant. I gotta tell you I was hoping He’d encourage me to love, be joyful, have peace, patience, to be kind and good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. These are the fruits of the Spirit after all, and maybe He wanted me to be more patient and self-controlled because these are the two fruits I struggle the most to bear.
I read for a while then went back to the wildflower fields hoping for a whisper on the wind. Instead of the comfort, I was seeking, my internal discomfort increased. Again – I felt no disapproval – but a loving conviction and an urgent hunger for more sent me back to my Bible.
This time, I turned to the Gospels afraid of what God was asking. It felt dangerous. Deadly even. (Hey! I write fiction – my imagination went places!)
The chaos screaming fear into my heart slowly stilled as I read over and over what held Jesus to the cross. I wanted to be sure of the lesson. Was it the nails? Yes, physically. The soldiers? No – He knew they were just doing their jobs although He prayed for them – how amazing is that!? His love for me? Yes, and that’s usually my focus when it comes to the cross, but there was one more thing, and it was the one that God wanted me to understand.
I found it in John 6:38 . . .
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (NKJV)
For Jesus, doing God’s will meant coming to earth, teaching, healing, loving, and displaying all the fruits of God’s Spirit on His way to Calvary.
And staying on the cross until the perfect will of God was complete.
Reading the verse out loud, I felt like I was standing on a precipice with my toes already curled over the edge and He wanted me to jump fully into His will. For me, and for all of us who believe Jesus is who God’s Word says He is – God wants us to tell others about Him. The Messiah. The one who is the way, the truth, and the life. The Savior. King of Kings. Lord of Lords.
When I first came to Christ, I could not shut up about Jesus. I was almost sixteen and bold, and anyone with breath in their bodies was someone who might need His salvation. I loved Him fiercely and proclaimed the Gospel with a fearless passion. Because of His love for me, I loved others deeply without concern about what they thought of me – all that mattered was what they thought about Him.
I was a testifier. A witness. A Truth-teller.
Desire flowed from my heart to His, and I whispered, “Father – I’m almost sixty, and I want to live like that again.”
There were two questions that propelled me back then and today fuel the re-ignited flame in my soul:
- If we who believe in Jesus don’t tell those who don’t believe, how will they know?
- And who better to tell them about His love for them than those of us who have experienced it?
I looked at the pictures of the last, lingering bloomers. There was a rush of joy in my spirit as I realized that God used these stragglers – so beautiful in their fragile, quiet, and bold beauty – to remind me to be brave as I live out His will for me.
And now this is my prayer:
“Father, I want to be brave, full of courage and endurance, valiant, bold, fearless, great-hearted, confident, determined, unflinching, compassionate, merciful, and intrepid for you. Maybe we could even throw in a little pluck and spunk and grit for good measure. But mostly I want to be like Jesus on the cross – determined to live fully in Your will.”
The fear of a deadly danger passed, and a sense of purpose took its place. Once again, my number one reason for breathing is to tell those who might face an eternal death so horrible we can only imagine it.
Where will we find these souls to tell? I found a clue in a conversation Jesus had with this guy in Mark 5:18-20 (NIV) . . .
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
Wouldn’t it be great if the people we love but don’t believe yet were amazed by Jesus?
Until Next Time,