I took my daughters to school today and both of them didn't want to go. It was Monday, and Monday is the hardest day of the week as it means school. My daughters have always wanted to be with my husband and me instead of going. I can understand as I was the same way when I was younger. I would rather do anything instead of go to school. As I was saying, "Good bye" to them, I spoke out, "Be brave, and be strong and courageous!" I started to think about those words and what I was going through in my own life. Recently I have been facing my fears and walking through things I have avoided for years. God has been telling me to be "strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:6) as I face my giants and obstacles that come my way to get to the Promised Land. Fear of the unknown, fear of my past, fear of man, fear of failure, and even the fear that I missed the Promised Land altogether.
Being courageous is not an easy thing to do, especially when it has been marks of your character to run and bolt under pressure. The word courageous means: possessing or displaying courage; able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching.
The word courage means: The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc, without fear, and with self-possession, confidence, resolution; bravery.
There are times when I do feel courageous and I face my fears, other times I shrink back and find a place of refuge. I believe God knows and sees this. He knows when I am weak or vulnerable. I also believe God will bring about encouragement somehow. It might be a passage of scripture you read that blesses you and gives you strength to continue. It might be a friend or loved one saying or doing something for you. It might be the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart in such a way that you realize you can keep going under fire.
There are several elements to courage that are always there. When we follow through with what we need to do, even though we don't want to do it, we will see all these elements come to pass.
ELEMENTS TO COURAGE
1. Courage takes boldness - Face your fears
Fear, in it self, can rule us and paralyze us if we let it. Fear of the unknown is overwhelming if we allow the thoughts to take over our minds. One thing I have found to combat fear in my life is to remind myself of God's faithfulness. I remember situations in my past that God has brought me through and I tell myself that He will bring me through this too.
We must remember that retreating from our fears only brings weakness. It also multiplies the fear in our minds and it becomes even bigger than reality. I know as I have done it in my life. Then, instead of facing something small and manageable, we face a puffed up illusion of the fear. This can only bring torment and pain. This is the enemies work too. We have to recognize it for what it is. God is not a God of fear. He is a God of courage. So, if you face any fears in your life, realize God wants you to have courage. Pray and ask God what you should do. Should you confront the fear? Should you wait? Should you just let the fear go and trust God for the outcome?
This week I have had to look at some "scary" fears in my life. As I looked at them, I let them overwhelm me and I began to retreat and want to give up. Courage was not in me at all. This is rather hard to tell you as I have a fear of people thinking I am not a strong woman of God, or weak in the face of fear. But as I started to retreat, I turned around and looked at the fear. It became even bigger to me. I stopped and walked right up to it and saw it finally for what it was; fiction. Fear is fiction, at least the fear I was facing. It was not reality. I had allowed the fear of man, and fear of my past, to paralyze and prevent me from moving on with my life, and with ministry.
One of my fears is not measuring up to other people. I have always felt "less than" others. This fear has blown up so big in my life this past week. I was shocked at the size I had allowed it to get. My insecurities and weaknesses were so huge in my mind that they seemed insurmountable. But the only way I will overcome them is to face them and push myself towards them. I am determined to not be in bondage to my fears. We all have them; it is how we deal with them that really determine what we will do in life. So I have made a determination in my heart to walk towards my fears instead of retreating or finding a place to hide.
My Pastor and a close friend pointed out some of my fears to me. It was like the big "elephant in the living room" syndrome. Everyone sees you have a big elephant in your living room, as matter of fact it is taking up all the extra space for anyone to sit down and fellowship with you. Yet, you have no clue that the elephant is there. I can imagine a comedy skit of a big elephant in the living room and people are sitting down on the couches or chairs trying to drink a cup of coffee and fellowship with you, but the elephant is so big that it is sitting in everyone's lap. Still you don't even acknowledge it being there and you try to strike up a conversation with people. Everyone else sees the elephant and knows what needs to be done, but you are totally ignoring the obvious.
It takes courage to face our fears.
2. Courage knows God is always there - Realize you are not alone
Often times we think we have to face our fears alone. That makes our fears even worse. We think we are the only one there to figure out what to do. We have to realize we are never alone, we always have God there. He is constantly speaking to our heart words of help, direction, encouragement, and peace. We just have to tune our spiritual ears into His frequency. Scripture says in 1Sa 12:22, "For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people." Heb 13:5- 6 "Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
God's love can envelope us to overcome our fears. He is not expecting you to be strong and courageous without him. Our loving Lord will shower us with the confidence of His love to walk and face what we need to face. In His love we are transformed and changed. We see things from a different perspective. The perspective is from His loving arms looking out to the situation. Everything seems smaller and easily attainable from His arms.
Let us remember that perfect love drives out fear. 1John 4:18 states, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." God's love for us is perfect. His love drives our fear away if we receive it. We know fear is not of God strictly because fear torments us. God is a God of love, not torment. I like how the Message paraphrase Bible states 1John 4:18, "There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life--fear of death, fear of judgment--is one not yet fully formed in love."
God is calling his people to be strong under fire. So many times we want the easy road out. We would rather find a more comfortable path to take in life then to walk through a rough trial. But if we walk through what is in front of us we will be stronger for it. We will receive a wonderful reward for endurance.
Joshua 1:6a "Be strong and courageous"
3. Courage takes risks Step out beyond what you know
Usually when you have to confront something, it takes an element of risk into the unknown. Joshua visited the Promised Land earlier under Moses leadership, and knew what was in the land he had to confront. Did he know how they were going to overcome the giants? No! But he did know God was with him and He was willing to face what was ahead in the security of knowing God was for him, and not against him.
The element of risk is challenging. What is your character? Do you cringe at the thought of risking something? If there is risk involved, it does mean you will have to let go of something to reach for something new. The definition of the word, "risk" is, "the exposure to the chance of injury or loss," so there will be a loss of some sort. The loss here is the loss of fear! It is worth the risk of stepping out in courage to confront fear. The more and more we step out and confront the fear, the easier and less threatening it becomes in our lives. The risk to the exposure of injury is always a threat. That is why we retreat when we see fear. We don't want to get hurt. Our flesh will scream at us and yell, STOP AND TURN AROUND," while our head and our heart is saying, "KEEP PRESSING FORWARD!" We really don't have a choice when it comes to living life and enduring from day to day. If we stop, we will digress or self-destruct. There is nothing healthy about that. No, the only choice we have is to keep going and to press in to any fear and meet it head on to over come it.
4. Courage takes resilience Enduring when you want to give up
Resilience is the power or ability to return to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. It is the ability to recover from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy. Courage takes resilience. It is a knowing that as you are walking in the face of your fears, you will be ok. It is continuing to move forward even though you see potential hazards around you. Remember that God is always with us, Isaiah 42:3 "He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick; He will faithfully bring justice." God will not allow you to be bent to the place of breaking. He is with you and has His eye on you constantly. That's His character. He knows what you can endure, which is more than what you think you can endure.
Resilience is good as it brings healthy growth. I heard about an environment scientists were trying to create in the desert. They created a dome structure that would grow all sorts of plants and trees. They would plant all types of wildlife. But as the trees would grow, they started to bend back towards the ground. The scientists were baffled over this. They gave the trees proper care, nourishment, and sunlight, but they still would grow straight for awhile, and then bend towards the ground. Finally one of the scientists realized that there was no wind. The trees needed wind to face resistance to make them grow strong under pressure. This is exactly what happens with us. We need the winds of adversity to make us grow under pressure. If we never faced anything that was challenging, we would never know what it was like to overcome.
I want to be one that bounces back under pressure. I want to find myself strong after facing my fears.
5. Courage takes action Step out; make a move!
Faith takes action. It is one thing to believe God will bring you to your promised land, and it is another to never step one foot towards that promise. We cannot expect to advance and take the land if we stay in one place. God is waiting for you to step out. The fear of stepping in the wrong direction is bondage. If you never step, you will never obtain. I believe if you step in the wrong direction, God will lovingly correct you if your heart is to do His will and to please Him. Stand in the confidence of Who's you are. Step out in faith believing God will move after you move. Just like the Priests who had to step into the water with the Ark of the Covenant, once they took a step, the waters began to part. Before they took the step, the waters never moved (Joshua 3).
I like what Hebrews 10:35 39 (HCSB) says, "So don't throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God's will, you may receive what was promised. For in yet a very little while, the coming One will come and not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life."
Retreating is the opposite of taking a step forward towards your fears. What does a step forward look like? It can come in the form of casting down imaginations that try and exalt themselves above the knowledge of God in your heart (2 Cor. 10:5). It is bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Another form of stepping towards your fears can be doing the exact opposite of what your flesh tells you. If you are afraid of man and what they think of you, then you need to function and walk where you think people are having a problem with you, and love them unconditionally. How about facing the very person that hurt you in your past and give them forgiveness? I have done this in my past and it has freed me from tons of bondage fear brought. One of the biggest things we can do is confront the enemy and cast him down. We have let him have a stronghold for too long and it's time for us to take our authority and command him to leave us.
Courage is a wonderful character trait if we let it be complete in us. Courage is nothing if we don't act upon it. It takes boldness to face our fears. We can never overcome anything in our life if we don't confront it and look at it for what it is. Fiction will puff itself up and that is exactly what fear does. Remember you are not alone. God always see and is constantly watching over you. You can walk through this with confidence. Don't get discouraged at what you see, but be encouraged as you step into the unknown. If we want to experience more of God we have to step where we haven't been before. Be resilient! Endure even when you want to stop, or retreat. I am sure you can think of the action you need to take to move towards your fears with courage. Ask God to show you what you need to do. Be brave! Don't be afraid. Be strong and courageous and possess the land God has promised you.
Pastor Kris Belfils
Kris Belfils is an Author, Pastor, Singer/Songwriter, Speaker, and Worship Leader. She has a passion to see people transformed and set free. Her newest book, "The Garbage Man Always Comes On Fridays," is a powerful tool to help others overcome their past. www.krisbelfils.com
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