When Courage is the Answer

Yesterday brought an interesting discovery: a homeless man had pitched a tent in the woods beside our home. My first response was fear, followed by general uneasiness. All of the traditional dangers that accompany homelessness are things that I don’t want near my young sons.

But I couldn’t stop staring at this tent. Its blue, slightly weathered exterior was surrounded by trees just yards beyond our perimeter fence. My mind split in two different directions. Do I step in and help this man or do I run and protect that which is mine? Do I have the courage to ask him his story or will I pass the buck and notify the authorities?

As I began taking steps toward the tent, fear rang out so loudly in my soul. Be careful; you have a family to protect.

Playing it safe, I called the police.

The anguish it caused poured into my journal, as emotions ranged from anger to fear to sorrow.

And yet, there’s one word I couldn’t get out of my mind.

His small blue tent sits in the right-center of the frame about fifty yards from our home

His small blue tent sits in the right-center of the frame about fifty yards from our home

Lately, my conversations and activities have revolved around this idea of courage. Additionally, my recent posts have centered on the theme of sharing your story, making a difference, and obedience; all of which require great courage.

Like an impending head-on collision with a freight train, courage has been noisily headed down the tracks of my life.

A friend in a troublesome place in his marriage, wondering if he has the courage to leave, asking me for advice.

A video on cancer, causing me to question the reason for my own diagnosis and a possible lifestyle overhaul.

The reality of publishing a book and the ominous obstacles that await around every corner: cover design, endorsements, strategy, what ifs.

A homeless man taking refuge yards away from my three boys’ playground; how do I respond?

Where does courage fit into your life?

You’re single. Wandering. Carpe diem is life’s theme song and you’re burning the candle at both ends. No need to listen to the pointless words of others; they don’t understand you anyway.

You’re single. Wondering. Is this it? What about marriage; what about my life? To hush the questions, your ambition swells and you busily chase a career. Or maybe, ambition wanes and you sit on the edge of your proverbial sea, berated by the waves of depression.

You’re the mom, caught in the everyday. Wearing so many hats that you forget which one you have on: business woman, mother, wife, friend, cook, maid, independent-let-your-hair-down-girls’-night-out.

You’re the dad, providing for your family, constantly striving to appease employers and balance priorities. The drone of the demands fall upon deaf ears. Quotas, road trips, responsibilities, exercise, dream-having-not-dream-living.

Maybe you’re on the backside of those duties and you wonder, what now?

You’re the grandmother, wanting the best for your ever-growing family, yet not knowing your role. As you look up, you realize, you’re the grandmother now, as thoughts of your own childhood flash before your eyes.

You’re the grandfather, wanting the affection and respect of your wife who is busy being the grandmother. On the backside of your career, you ask, “All of that for this?” You force the enjoyment of retirement, wondering if you’ve got enough saved to make it.

The list of possible story lines is endless; what is yours?

Our Common Bond

So take your story and hear this: We are collectively joined in the middle of our own stories; each of us face situations and circumstances calling for our action. In this struggle, we are united.

Yes; your story is your own, but it is not isolated. There is a place where our stories intersect; there’s a word that joins us:

Courage

Courage

Every single one of us encounters the need for courage, every single day.

And here’s what I’m learning about courage. Culture tells us that courage is reckless, something necessary for those who risk death-defying feats or fight fires. While there is a level of courage there in those particular scenarios, the courage I’m talking about is a different sort.

I’m talking about a courage that is linked to faith.

Do you have that kind of courage?

You see, we often have a skewed view of courage. Much like richness, the world offers up its own perspective, but is it the true definition?

It takes courage to seize the day, but it also takes courage to prepare for the future.

It takes courage to be ambitious, but it also takes courage to trust that God will provide.

It takes courage to wear different hats, but it also takes courage to say, “I’m good enough.”

It takes courage to run a business, but it also takes courage to put work aside and spend time with your family.

My challenge to us is this. What are you placing your faith in? Does your courage flow from the Father? Is your fear destroyed by His life-giving love?

I’m not suggesting I made the right decision regarding the homeless man next door. The police couldn’t do much since he wasn’t there when they came and technically, he wasn’t on my property anyway.

Courage could have driven me to approach his tent and confront the situation. Courage could have driven me to ask him his name and invite him in for dinner. But for me, Courage said, “Pray for this man. Take him a book and leave it by the wood’s exit with a note inside. No need to confront, not now. Have faith.” So that’s what I did.

While, I’d love to say I know his name and I invited him in for dinner, I didn’t. And that’s where grace comes in. We’re not always guaranteed to make the right decision, but when our decisions are courageously tied to our faith, God will honor them. And I know because He said so.

“Be strong, be courageous, for I am with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

QUESTION: Where have you been missing courage? 

CHALLENGE: Think of one courageous act you can do today; do it.

MH

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  • Good encouragement Matt.
    I find it really difficult to listen to the “still, small voice of God” whispering to me ever so slightly to pursue a situation. I think a lot of us can relate when it happens when we’re in the middle of something that WE have to do, and think “I can’t stop now, God, I’m on my way somewhere.” However, when I do listen to Him calmly whispering, some amazing things happen from it. Even if it’s just the fact that you’re able to pray for someone in need, planting the seed is all we need to do. Let God handle the rest. Be courageous, my friend.

    • Discernment is always a key word when it comes to being courageous. When we take the time to listen to his voice and respond in faith, even if our decisions go awry, His grace awaits.

      And yes, sometimes we plant seeds, sometimes we water them, and sometimes we see them grow.

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  • Matt,

    Good job. I like this one. For us, it’s getting gout of bed and working every day. Yesterday was 11 months since we lost our son, and courage is required to do what we do, keep going, spark our faith, hold on and still try to make a difference.

    Making decisions when fear, paternal/family protection instincts and wisdom are all competing with each other for your judgement is tough. But prayer, patience and compassion have to be mixed in too. That was a tough one, and letting the authorities handle it was a good call.

    Our family is trying to heal, and still help others at the same time.

    I see the courage it’s taken our daughters and our other son to go to school everyday, carry on, and still live their lives. I’ve seen my wife shoulder her grief because she has to carry me too, and I’ve carried her and mine at times as well.

    Life is a battle, a struggle, and it takes courage to live it, be faithful, and still be a force for good in the world.

    That’s why I started blogging, by the way- to say, “Hey, life’s really hard, but we’re all in it together. Let’s figure it out.”

    Thanks for what you’re doing.

    Lee

  • Lee –
    I don’t want to pretend like I have words to say…

    Your COURAGE/FAITH in the midst of this does shine through and is a blessing to those in a very dark place. I’m so glad our paths have crossed.

  • Kelly Delbasty Jelley

    Matt,
    I am really enjoying your words of inspiration and clarity!
    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your struggles. Losing my mom 17 months ago to cancer was by far and still is the most devistating obstacle of my life! Prayers for you and your beautiful family!

    • Kelly –
      Thank YOU for your kind words. My prayers are with you this morning. I’m certain of the difficulties you’ve been through with the loss of your mom. I encourage you to continue to be courageous in the midst of that battle. Also, see Lee’s comment below – I know he can relate.

      If there is anything we can do, please let us know!

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