Courage to Break it Down – Ashly P. Ash
It seems in our society more and more that we tend to excuse our fears and tiptoe around them rather than facing them. We rationalize that doing certain things are “just not for me” or “I just don’t have that personality”. Sometimes we even just nod in understanding as we explain to our friends “I guess that is just my weakness”. Lately I have been reflecting on this trend that has become the norm. I have been wondering if many of us are not moving to the next level of growth because of our excuses.
I talk to a lot of people and I hear so many dreams from the hearts of God’s people. Many of these dreams we believe God will simply hand to us. We believe that one day, all of a sudden; we will wake up and be living the life that we have dreamed of. But when we look at scripture and look at history we have to be honest with ourselves in realizing this is not how God operates. Of course there are times when He performs miracles and I definitely want to make room for miracles! A lot of the time though there are very small steps in our daily walk that we need to begin to make so that God will begin working on our character to prepare us for the greatness we claim is our destiny. It isn’t that God can’t hand us our dreams supernaturally but a lot of the time He wants to build character and relationship within us along the way! Dreams are real and they can be realized through responsibility! Taking responsibility for our weaknesses and being willing to start somewhere is half the battle.
According to the dictionary courage is: to act in accordance with ones beliefs especially in spite of criticism. Courage is stepping out and facing something when we do not have a guarantee of the outcome. As I always say, every journey begins on the inside and courage is no exception. Courage must begin as a heart attitude. We must recognize our dream, recognize where we want to be. What is the “light at the end of the tunnel” for us right now? What river do we need to start crossing to end up on the other side of?
Prayer is one of the best ways to prepare us for an attitude of courage. Taking our fears to the Cross and confessing them aloud can sometimes be the starting point of breaking their power over us. Through confession we can begin to look for opportunities and ways to begin towards our goals. For me it seems when I pray the Holy Spirit speaks to me and gives me nudges internally that push me in the direction that I need to go. Acting in faith takes courage, and faith is stepping out when we don’t see change.
“You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” James 2:24
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
Faith is stepping out even when we don’t see change. This is not a definition but a guideline from my own experience. Once I realize where it is that I want to be or need to be, pray about it and figure out what I am called to do, I need faith to act. It can be very scary to operate in faith and to step out believing that God is not only on the other side of our problem but also right there with us.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
In changing our heart attitude we will slowly begin to view the process as a joy instead of a burden. I have heard it preached before that we may as well enjoy the journey because about 90% of our life is spent on the journey and not the destination. We know this is true in our hearts! As soon as we arrive at any destination we are already thinking of the next thing. God created us to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28) so by nature we are dreamers and achievers through Christ!
There are many examples in my life of conquering fear and moving forward in faith. I want to share a few of them here and hopefully inspire you in your journey as well.
One way that I can really relate to courage is from my experience in skiing. A lot of times a ski slope consists of multiple little hills. It is either broken up this way on purpose or it is the best way for them to clear the land. Either way you usually can take one slope (especially in a place like Colorado where the slopes can be over a mile long) and break it into sections as you ski. To me it seems when you are skiing and about to go down a very steep hill (or cliff as my mom calls them) the first section is always so easy. You head down and are thinking “man this isn’t so bad at all”. Then as you continue all of a sudden reach this drop off. You look down and you cannot see the bottom because it is so steep that if you get close enough to lean over you will fall. It is always at this point that you look back up the hill wondering if you can somehow get back up there. Of course the way most resorts are set up though you realize even if you get back up to the top there is no way for you to get back to the lodge without skiing down!
Early on our instructors taught us that when you come to a point like this where you are sure that by continuing you will die, you should mentally break each section into about four more sections. Find a landmark (a tree, a rock, a break in the snow) and decide you will get to that point and then stop. When you get to the break that you have mentally marked you can set your next point. Soon enough, bit by bit, you are at the bottom of the slope intact and in fact alive.
But you see, it is a matter of attitude and courage. First you convince yourself that even if you are overwhelmed by the entire slope in front of you, you CAN make it to that one little point about 50 yards out. After you have your internal attitude in order you must step out in courage and begin to head towards that target. You move in faith stepping out even though the slope hasn’t changed, the conditions haven’t changed; nothing has changed except your attitude. I am not going to lie to you, starting to ski down when you are that scared can be the most terrifying thing you have ever done! Your heart starts pounding within you, your hands and neck become a little sticky and hot and you wonder why you wore so many layers for the cold because at that moment you feel anything but cold! Then after starting out right after you make your first turn with the ski’s you realize you are ok and you will be fine and it gets so much easier from there.
I have seen many people sit there for hours instead of making that first move towards the bottom. I’ve seen others completely take off their skis and walk back to the top to call for help. Others have flown forward carelessly and without caution causing bad accidents which have placed them in the hospital. But those that have approached the slopes appropriately with caution, attitude contemplation, and courage always end up at the bottom with a feeling of victory within them that matches no other!
What ski slope are you on right now? What is it that you need to get to the bottom of? Do you feel overwhelmed by this and unsure of where to start? This is an opportune time to break your goal into sections and find a breaking point in which you too can ski down to and shoot for. You do not want to carelessly fly off the cliff and end up in the “hospital” with more emotional wounding that can set you back years. You do not want to trek back to the top of the mountain to find out that you have to ski back down anyway and have simply wasted your time! Take a moment right now even and ask the Lord what ski slope you need to set out on, and ask Him what very specific breaking points you can set as a goal.
Another example came the other week when I was driving to see a friend a few hours away. On the way I had to pass through a tunnel. As I started into the tunnel I had no idea what was on the other side. In fact, there was a huge mountain standing before me and it appeared as if it was impossible to pass without going over. When I began driving into the tunnel I could feel myself getting a little excited. Subconsciously I was thinking, “What is on the other side?”, “Oh this isn’t something I see every day, this is a new path, this is exciting!”
As I kept driving and noticing my surroundings I was curious about this tunnel. How it was made, what it was made of, and what was its purpose? I wasn’t very far in before I did not see an end to this path and got a little anxious. “What if it doesn’t lead to where I want to be? My GPS stopped working due to being inside of the mountain so am I in the right place? Why do I not see the other side of the tunnel yet? Where is the light?” These were thoughts that started crossing my mind as I drove on in the darkness.
Finally I could see a small flicker of light indicating the end of the tunnel. Seeing the end to my goal and knowing where I was headed I immediately calmed and felt peace inside. Within a few hundred feet my GPS continued working and it was confirmed that I was indeed on the right path.
Do you see how this is like courage and faith? When we get out on a new path and step out in courage on the path we feel God has destined for us at first we are excited! We received the promise from God, we know where we are headed, and we are warriors! As we continue on we get a little curious about this path. Mmmm…did we hear God right? Are we on the right path? Why does God seem to be taking us the long way around here, what is His purpose?
Then as we continue anxiety often sets in. We were so sure we followed God (our GPS) on this path; we were so sure we were guaranteed to get out on the other side of the mountain where we were promised to go! But why are we not there yet? Maybe this isn’t right after all? Maybe we missed God?
And finally, when we start to see things coming together the way God put them together we feel the joy and the peace of testimony. Knowing that once again our God was bigger than our feeble minds could ever fathom!
To believe without seeing is something that we can only do on this earth. To step out and act in faith and courage when there is no guarantee of the outcome is storing treasure in heaven.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20
There is no time other than this lifetime on earth that we get to show God how much we love and depend on His grace to meet us not just at the end of every tunnel but the whole way through the tunnel!