Is courage innate, endowed to us in varying degrees, or do we extend and reach for it each day?
Recently, I saw the critically acclaimed, docudrama Selma. It was achingly raw, a harsh reminder of former sins, and the bloody and oppressive past of African Americans in the Land of the Free. Still, an inspiring account of utter bravery, hope, tenacity, and what it means to live beyond yourself, refused to be overshadowed.
Afterwards, I reflected on the lives and deeds of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., other civil rights leaders, and those whose names and faces never made the news or history books. In the pursuit of equality, I couldn’t think of a more courageous and sacrificial commitment and recommitment.
If for a moment, if it’s feasible, imagine you endured such terror and cruelty, how do you believe you would have responded?
Honestly, I don’t know. I pray that my choices would reflect my faith and hope for abundant life for others and myself.
If nothing else, I’d pray for courage and conviction.
I then thought about those of other races, who chose not to be silent and still, who stood with the oppressed, even in the face of reprisal … even if it meant death.
To not only empathize, but also join the fight against what was then portrayed as the right side of moral fortitude, takes guts and conviction.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” – Galatians 6:2-3 emphasis added
What makes us courageous? What forces courage? Our convictions.
The fact is it’s often easier to accept the norm, than defy it. Unless of course, fear of the norm outweighs fear of the unknown.
Staying quiet, staying still, staying acceptable, staying the same, offers safety in conformity and normality.
I’ve always been bewildered by individuals who state their support or belief in an idea, without a modicum of evidence. For example, self-proclaimed Christ followers and those who inspire to be Christ-like, whom no one recognizes as Christian.
Perhaps, the person prefers to blend in, rather than stand out. Perhaps, the person isn’t who he/she claims to be. Perhaps, the person has dual personae, choosing which to display and when to display it.
If our actions don’t reflect our beliefs, do we truly believe?
Christians pursue Christ. When you’re in an earthly relationship, people who know you, know that you’re involved and with whom you’re involved. There’s evidence of a relationship. You might mention that person in conversation, share stories that speak to his qualities, explain how you two met, post messages about or upload pictures of that person on your social media site, or change your profile status to reflect your involvement with him, by name.
If there is no evidence of a relationship or it’s existence is kept hidden, is the relationship a reality or one of shame? Is that person a priority, exclusive, or forbidden fruit?
Conviction challenges and charges us towards courage. It says, “Regardless of what’s prevalent or what other people may think of my circumstance or me, I refuse to accept the status quo. I choose to live out loud, unhidden, despite of ‘_________.’ ”
Have you read the story of Robert Costner IV in the news?
Roy Costner IV is a former South Carolina high school student who ripped up his previously approved valedictorian speech, to instead speak about God, and deliver the Lord’s Prayer to his graduating class.
The decision, which drew thunderous applause, was taken in opposition to the school district’s decision to prohibit prayer during graduation events. School officials removed invocations from all school events, due to complaints from atheist activists and church-state separatists.
But, that didn’t deter Roy Costner IV. His convictions caused him to extend and reach for courage.
Lord, as we are led by faith, let us not stop short at human limits and fail to realize what’s made possible in you.
Remind us that we are not common, but rather peculiar.
Cause us to reach for the courage to do what you’ve instructed and command what you’ve promised.
Help us to be brave in our pursuit that our conviction and actions will cause ripple effects in the lives of others.
We desire to Live Out Loud, as humble recipients of the Abundant Life that you’ve promised.
Cast out all fear, with your love.
In Jesus name, Amen.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain