Courage and Fear

Courage is armor a blind man wears;

The calloused scar of outlived despairs:

Courage is Fear that has said its prayers.

Karle Wilson Baker, 1878

Luke 12:32  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 

Courage empowers while fear can feel utterly dreadful.  Fear when run amuck can suck the life out of the soul, fear can cause a person to parenthetically curl themselves into an embryonic state, and can drain us dry of all contentment.   Max Lucado says, “When fear dominates we become abandoned barns, rickety and tilting from the winds, a place where humanity used to eat, thrive, and find warmth.”

When fear grips us we worship at the altar of safety at all costs.  Safety becomes king, we glory in risk free living.  Can safety-lovers do anything completely great?  Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds?  For God?  For others?    Can you imagine Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem that holy night without a spirit of courage—a selfless ability to take risk.   Think of  those four men who lowered their friend through a roof to Jesus.  They never would have torn a hole in the roof to bring their friend to the healing hands of Jesus without a radical courage.  Without courage Matthew would have never gotten up from that table and left his tax ledgers and his coins behind, Peter would have never left the nets filled with fish for nets filled with the souls of those he captured for Jesus.  Zacheaus would have stayed up in that tree in fear.

Luther would never have stood and said, “Here I stand I cannot do otherwise, God help me, Amen.” Livingston would not have lost himself in the wilds of Africa.  Damien would not have served the lepers until he himself became a leper. Without impulsive courage no one in their right mind would enter the ministry, do missionary work, or leave the comforts of their shore to do something great for God.   A pox on those who are incessant in putting all risk aside—always seeking the path of comfort and safety—allowing fear to lead to mediocrity.  A pox on level-headed living that always stands on the shore afraid to make waves or be on a wave.   That’s not level headed living it’s just plain flat. The Christian faith is supposed to be a mixture of burning enthusiasm and selfless courage.  That’s what I find in much of Scripture. 

Can risk aversion accomplish great things for God?  Can the fear-filled dream big dreams?  The worship of safety at all costs emasculates greatness.  No wonder Jesus wages war against fear.  His most common command emerges from the statement “fear not.”  The gospels list 125 Christ issued imperatives.  Of these, twenty-one urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart.”  If quantity is an indicator Jesus takes our fears seriously.  The one statement he made more than any other was this:  DON’T BE AFRAID. 

Deuteronomy 31:8   The Lord, He is the one who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. 

He told me to tell you!

Faithfully, Pastor Robert Zimmerman