Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day Fifteen: Courage

The WORD of the Day:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." 
--Deuteronomy 31:6

Let Me Give You a Lift:

Do you know, there are over 100 passages in the Bible in which we are told not to be afraid? It is one of the more commonly repeated ideas in the entire book!  And, more often than not, the admonition not to be afraid is coupled with a statement that God is with us, God will not leave us.  Don't be afraid; I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere. It's a pretty comforting concept, and one we understand well. Like the examples I mentioned in Held High, we often use God's methodology for calming us to calm the fears of our own children.

So why is God the antidote for our fears? Why are we the antidote for our children's fears? Love. Would you believe the answer is that simple? 1 John 4:18 says: 

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."

Now, in one sense "perfect" love means what it says. That kind of love, is a hard thing for an imperfect human (like me) to comprehend. But the Bible also uses the word perfect to mean "complete."  In that sense, we are talking about loving with our whole selves--heart, soul, body and mind. As a mother/wife/friend, that kind of love I understand. Our children are not afraid because our perfect love protects them. And we can live unafraid because God's love, perfect in both senses of the term, protects us.  

You know, 1 John 4 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. One reason is because, as we understand it, John was Jesus' best friend while he lived on this earth (he is referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved;" and it is John Jesus calls upon to care for his mother Mary at the crucifixion).  I think that John writes so beautifully about love because he understood the heart of Christ better than any other person in Jesus' earthly life. My favorite part of the chapter is this:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Powerful stuff: God. Is. Love.  But I titled this a lesson on courage, so how does all this talk of love tie in?  I think that courage and love are inextricably linked for two reasons. 

First, as the verse above states, perfect love casts out fear.  When we rely on God, when we tap into the arsenal He provides, and when we lean on Him for guidance, it brings a stillness to the soul that can help us face any obstacle.

Second, love is the most powerful force on this earth. Often in our greatest battles we are fighting for something/someone we love, or fighting because we love someone/something. We are strengthened when love is our motivation to be brave.  That's why a patriot is worth a dozen mercenaries. Our hearts make us strong because love belongs to God.    

We can face every day unafraid when we know that God is with us, and that he will never leave us or forsake us because of His perfect love for us.

Give it a Listen:

Today's song is "Everything" by Lifehouse.  Yes, Lifehouse is a Christian band. But they also had the good fortune of catching the ear of producers on a very popular show in 2006--Smallville--which pushed them out into the mainstream.  Other artists have had the same thing happen. For instance, you may not know who Francesca Battistelli is, but if you've watched American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, you've heard "It's Your Life."

The thing about Lifehouse's music that makes it so appealing to a broad audience is that the songs sound like love songs. And they are.  If you listen to the words, Lifehouse sings about a very powerful love of God, inspired by awe, which compels praise.  This song in particular is a really beautiful prayer about the magnitude of God. My favorite line: "how can I stand here with You and not be moved by You?"



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