I don’t think I have ever been a particularly cowardly person. As a matter of fact, I’ve done a whole lot of things that have required more courage than I thought I could muster. Each time I’ve had to reach down deep and search for the courage to do something major, it has become one of the highlights of my life. When I’m not sure I can actually do something and then I find the will within me to conquer, I feel elated.
For example, I was barely 16 years old when I started college. I had been away on a missions trip to Guatemala until the day before classes started, so I missed Welcome Week and the campus tour and Freshman Orientation. I walked onto the campus with my schedule in my hand and didn’t even know where my first hour classroom was located. I just started asking people for directions. I opened the door and saw 300 chairs arranged in theater style. I chose a row at eye level with the speaker on the stage and took the center seat. Courage.
At home with my collection of college class syllabi spread out in front of me, I spent the next two hours meticulously writing each assignment into my Day Timer Calendar, then backing up a few days or weeks to write a reminder about starting each project. When I had the due dates for all 6 classes written neatly in my calendar, I cried. I felt totally overwhelmed at what I was about to do. I didn’t know if I had what it would take to do college at age 16. I would need every ounce of courage I could find.
Fast forward many, many years. The day finally came where we said all our tearful good-byes and walked through the security check point with carry on baggage and two children. We were leaving for the mission field. In the next few weeks we would need courage almost hourly. We landed in a foreign country without knowing a word of Spanish. The next day we put our kids on a school bus with 5 other missionary kids and off they went to a school that we had never seen in a city where I couldn’t even locate my own apartment in a country where I didn’t speak the language. “Dear Jesus give me courage!” I prayed. As we walked the mile from our apartment to our language school, I felt like I would never be able to learn this route. I was sure I would get lost here. I needed courage.
And here I am again, staring into the deep, dark well of fear and wondering if I could dredge up some courage again. I have been hired as the vice principal at our school here in Costa Rica. My emotions are swinging wildly between the excitement of all my ideas and the deer-in-the-headlights shock of what I’ve just stepped into. I prayed for this, and now I’m terrified. Once again, I am digging deep for courage. I go to Jesus and ask for courage.
A friend and fellow teacher sent me a very encouraging note the other day. See that word “encouraging”? What do you see in the middle of it? COURAGE. Encouragement gives courage. How many times did the Lord tell Joshua and the untrained soldiers of Israel, “Be strong and courageous. Take heart and do not fear.” The battle is the Lord’s. I have nothing to fear. I take courage in the fact that Jesus is my source, a well that will never run dry. I can ask him for courage and he is glad that I have come to him with empty hands for he is ready to fill them up. I am more than a conquerer in Christ Jesus.