Contributor: Randi Shepherd
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what bravery looks like.
But let me back up.
Sometimes I try and control God. Essentially, at all times I want to know the answers to these questions:
If I pray for something, (God) are you going to answer?
If I take a leap of faith, (God) are you going to make it worth while?
If I have a problem, (God) are you going to fix it?
It boils down to this:
I want to know if God is going to show up.
Walk by faith? No, no…I want to walk with eyes wide open, knowing exactly what I am getting myself into.
Just how much is this going to hurt, God? How much will I have to sacrifice? Will there be disappointment? Will I fail? Is there going to be victory over battles in my life? Will I see healing? Will there be joy?
Brass tacks, God, what are you gonna do with me?
Over the last couple of weeks I have been challenged with a new thought:
Am I willing to show up despite not knowing the outcome?
- I’ve been thinking a lot about Sarah who couldn’t have a baby. God promised her that not only would she have a son, but eventually a great nation would come from her.
- I’ve been thinking a lot about the nation of Judah. One random day they were told that three armies were already on their way to attack them for apparently no good reason. Understandably, they were terrified. God told them to go out and meet the armies because he would take care of it. When they woke up the next morning, nothing had changed and the armies were still closing in on them.
- I’ve been thinking about a woman who is never named who was bleeding for 12 years. (12 YEARS!) She was gross and disgusting and most definitely not welcome anywhere. God promised her nothing, but one day she woke up and thought to herself, “Enough is enough.”
- I’ve been thinking about Stephen whose job was to give out food to widows. He was described as a person who was just completely filled with the spirit of God…But then he literally got arrested because he was smarter than certain people of power.
So I’m thinking about these people – Sarah, Judah, Bleeding Woman, Stephen – and I think the thing that marks all of them is not the fact that God showed up or didn’t show up (in how I would describe it) but that, rather, each of these people showed up.
- Sarah had the baby.
- Judah marched into war – and sent a group of singers (yes, they sent the singers first) to sing praise songs to God as they approached the mighty armies.
- The bleeding lady interrupted Jesus, who was on his way to heal a dying child. The bleeding lady not only stopped Jesus, but she secretly TOUCHED him because she said to herself something along the lines of, “I’m going for it because if he can heal other people, then he can sure enough heal me.”
- Stephen went to trial and instead of keeping his mouth shut, stood up and gave everybody a history lesson on their religion, reprimanded everybody for their wrong doings, called everybody murderers of Jesus and finished it off by telling everybody that in that exact moment when literally every person in the room hated his guts that he could in fact see God in all his glory.
These are people who SHOWED UP. These are people who apparently didn’t need to know how it would all turn out. They knew God, they believed God, they loved God, and so they walked forward having confidence in whatever it was that lay before them.
So, lately, as I think about these stories, I’ve been thinking about bravery. I know God. I believe in God. I love God. What would it take for me to just show up? Do I really have to have all the answers? Do I have to know exactly how it is going to turn out?
- Sarah had the baby (at age 90…90!), but she never lived to see her grandchildren. She was promised an entire nation, but died before her son even got married.
- Judah marched out to meet the armies, having no clue what was going to happen next. When they arrived at the battlefield, everybody was already dead. (Go read the story for yourselves if you want to know what happened – 2 Chronicles 20. It’s one of my very favorites.)
- The bleeding lady touched Jesus with no promise from God, only by an act of faith that if she could encounter God she could be changed. She was healed immediately.
- Stephen stood up for what was right, called out injustice, and was so close to God he could actually see God…and he was immediately killed. He is revered as the first Christian martyr.
There are stories of triumph and victory in the Bible. There are stories of heartache and sadness in the Bible. God is present in all of them. Sometimes he acts as I would wish for him to act, and sometimes he doesn’t.
However, it is not what God does or doesn’t do that binds all of these stories together. The outcomes in the Bible stories vary as much as each of our stories vary today. The common theme in the stories of people of faith are the actions of the people. They showed up. They were brave. They trusted God and their trust for him went beyond what would or would not happen in the moment or even in the near future.
(I think I may continue writing about this next week because I have a lot more to say on it, including why sometimes it appears that God does not show up.)
For now I’ll leave you with this: Sometimes God asks us to do things, and it takes a lot of bravery.
What would that look like for you? Are you willing to show up?