You Make Me Brave

October 30, 2018
By Joshua Toepper, Director of Adult Discipleship

Strength and weakness, bravery and cowardice: both are topics I have written on before, yet both seem to orbit back around as major themes of my life. Sometimes I wonder if I am too honest about when I am scared, nervous, or feeling weak. I was told last week that I was. Yet, still I wonder, should we have to hide the fact that we feel vulnerable? Should we have to be embarrassed that we are scared or nervous or feel weak? Isn’t bravery the ability to forge ahead even when you do not want to? Thus is admitting that you are scared, nervous, or weak cause for pause or does the inability to move forward when life calls you to the real cause for pause and questioning? I think it is the latter.

Often, I feel the last 11 years of my life has been one giant theme of embracing bravery while feeling scared out of my mind. From going to college and working at a church, to leaving everything I have ever known to move to the South. Time after time, I had the feeling God was asking me to face my fear and put myself out there. Time and time again, I needed to be brave and vulnerable when all I wanted to do was run and hide. God makes us brave. I am convinced of that. I am not brave nor am I strong. I daily want to run and hide; go back to the familiar and comfortable. Yet, through the grace of God I keep walking one step at a time.

Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” I have no idea where God is leading me and that makes me nervous, scared, and helpless…but onward I go. Because He makes us brave. Sure, I have plans. Lots of them, actually. But “in their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” That fact is why I’m convinced God gives us just enough courage to take one step forward. Then just enough strength to take another step forward. That is the journey of faith: one step in the right direction at a time.

In my pastoral ministry, I far too often encounter folks who are simply frozen in their fear and indecision. People prefer the predictability of their hell rather than stepping out in faith into something unknown…even something that may be amazing. That makes me sad. I think that is why I am usually a fan of people making bold and audacious moves in life. You love that area of the world? Move there. You want to start a new business, but it may bankrupt you? No risk, no reward. You want to pursue that relationship with everything you have even though it may blow up in your face? Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. Courage is taking one step forward in the midst of fear and uncertainty and I would err on the side of bold rather than safe moves.

Still, facing fear and stepping out is really hard and only when we realize that we are loved by God, whether weak or strong, brave or cowardly, a failure, or a success, can we take that one step in our journey of faith. We must believe at the core of our life that what Brennan Manning says is true: “my deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ & I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” Only then can we step forward. Only then can we be brave. Only then can we have the assurance that even if we fail, we are loved. God makes us brave.

So here’s to taking one more step forward, not knowing where I am going and scared out of my mind. Will you join?