Posts Tagged ‘courage’

Jo 17I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with a certain TV show on at the moment that pits one singer against another. I enjoy hearing the contestants sing, but I fear for them as they put themselves in such a vulnerable position, slap bang in front of thousands of viewers, not to mention a live audience and those judges who will choose between them. I hate to see so many head home disappointed, with their dream of success shattered.

You might not be about to get on a stage and sing, but perhaps you can think of a time when you had to put yourself out there in some way and risk being judged. Perhaps you had drawn or painted a picture. Perhaps you had to play a musical instrument in public. Perhaps you had to read aloud something you had written. Can you remember how you felt?

I suspect I relate to these music show contestants so strongly because of my many experiences when younger of playing the piano for scary music examiners and also playing or singing in eisteddfods, while the judges busily wrote notes about my performance. Yes, these experiences made me feel so vulnerable, but they stood me in good stead for playing and singing in churches in later years—and also for getting up and speaking in public, as I still often do. And I believe that, by the grace of God, they have also armed me well for my current writing journey.

Yes, giving your new manuscript to others to critique can be a daunting prospect. And having books published can be even more daunting. It has been said that, to be an author, you need a sensitive heart, but the hide of an elephant! Yet, if we know God has called us and gifted us to write—or paint or sing or play or dance or bake or create in some other way—how important it is to keep putting ourselves out there, whatever others might say or think!

That certainly applies too when speaking about the things of God, whether in a formal setting or informally in our daily lives. Right now, when so many in our world are particularly vulnerable, there are opportunities all around us to share that encouraging word with others and to show them God’s love. But sometimes it can be hard, can’t it? Sometimes, sadly, I still choose to keep quiet and stay in my comfort zone, rather than risk being rejected.

Years ago, when I was about to start theological college and feeling very vulnerable as an older student in my late forties, a visiting speaker came to our church and, prompted by God, gave me the following verse:

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT

So many times, these words kept me going through all the challenges of college, helping me focus on the final goal. But these words speak to us at every stage of our lives, don’t you think? So, whatever is happening around us right now, may we all stand firm, knowing we are secure in God’s love. Then let’s step out, put ourselves out there and grasp hold of the things God has given us to do with courage and strength!

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I often think that in this crazy writing journey I’m on, one of the main attributes required to keep going is plain old courage.  In the past few weeks, I have spent hours investigating more online sites and social networks where my novels could perhaps be promoted – and in my opinion, such a task isn’t for the fainthearted!  Many times I found myself tempted to give up on the whole idea – particularly when, after painstakingly entering bits and pieces of information on one occasion, I managed to lose the lot!  And after all, who would bother to give more than a cursory glance to the information and images on any ‘author page’ I might put together – particularly those subscribers living in the US, from where most of these sites emanate?

Then in the midst of all this frustrated effort, a phrase I heard over twenty-five years ago popped into my mind.  It was from another time in my life when I was embarking on something quite challenging for me.  I was returning to study after a long break looking after our three children – and this necessitated my ‘resurrecting’ any German and Japanese I had known from around thirteen years earlier but had hardly touched in those intervening years.  Eventually, I found myself in a class with eight other students, one of whom was a native German speaker, having to introduce myself in German and speak for a few minutes about my life.  I remember shaking in my boots, as I tried to dredge up that hidden cache of German words somewhere in the depths of my brain, and hoping against hope the lecturer would excuse me from such an ordeal.

But he didn’t.  Instead, he smiled patiently at me and said softly: ‘Sie brauchen Mut!’  (‘You need courage!’).  And he was right.  Taking a deep breath, I stumbled on and somehow made it out the other side.

So how about you?  As you face the new year, do you need to hear those gently challenging words too – ‘Sie brauchen Mut’?  Do you too need to take a deep breath and plunge on, despite all the misgivings churning around inside you?

Isn’t it wonderful though that we’re not left to do it all alone?  Yes, we have to take courage and act – but God has promised to be with us every step of the way.  We have God’s Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Encourager – the one whose very name means ‘the one called alongside’, the one sent for the purpose of helping.

And I find that more than a little encouraging, don’t you?

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