Giving in to my own fears is so normal for me, that I often don’t even realize I’ve done it. Recently, I was lamenting one such time in my early teens. Yes, it took me almost 20 years to realize I missed an opportunity because of my own fear! It all started in First Grade when I played t-ball in the local youth athletic association.
I played softball in that same association until I aged-out upon entering high school. My high school had a softball team, but for the first time in my softball career, players had to try out to earn a spot on the team. I never had to do that before. In the athletic association, we paid the required fee and we made the team!
Now that tryouts were required, I automatically figured that I would just have to be done with softball. Throughout my four years of high school, it never even occurred to me to try out for the team. So, I’ll never know if I would have made the team. Today, it seems so silly to me. Certainly, it would have been worth the risk to just try.
I read the book of Joshua when Tiller Family Ministries was just beginning to take shape. I was inspired by the words that God said to Joshua in Chapter One. I had learned through reading about Moses that God can use anyone even if the task seems impossible, because He is our strength. God had brought me through a period of becoming so aware of my weakness, that my constant prayer was for Him to be my strength. Joshua 1:9 became one of my favorites. A verse that I would often go to when I felt like I couldn’t handle the enormity of what God was asking me to do.
…be strong and courageous!”
At Powhatan Community Church today, my pastor taught from this scripture and made a good point (as he so often does:). When God speaks to Joshua, he repeats the phrase “be strong and courageous” three times. Pastor Brian said that he tends to read that whole phrase and kind of lump it all into one long word, “strongandcourageous”. I have done the same thing!
Pastor Brian also shared that he asked God to help him understand what these two words, “strong and courageous”, really mean from His perspective. He said that he didn’t get a text from God, but that God did speak very clearly in his soul:
Strength is the ability to stand up to pressure from the outside. Courage is the ability to stand up to pressure from the inside.”
The pressure from the outside comes from others. The pressure from the inside can be fear of rejection, fear of losing friends, fear of being hurt, or fear of failure.
There’s no doubt, that for me personally, courage is much harder than strength. Now as I attempt to follow where God is leading and do what He asks me to do, I realize that I need to be aware of my own inner fears. In the past two and a half years, He’s asked me to speak and write, sharing my own experiences of depression and my son’s near-fatal accident. This takes me way out of my comfort zone. This is partly because of the sensitive content that I’m called to share, but mostly because of my fear of failure. Failure to communicate anything that makes sense or is of any help to any one.
I got to experience for the first time what it’s like to be courageous with God. I said “Yes” to some of the opportunities that God opened up to me. There were times when I said “Yes, Lord, but I don’t really want to.” And I think that was evident in the results. There were also times when I said “No”, telling myself that I had already said “Yes” as much as I could. I couldn’t handle any more, I have limits.
So, by doing this, what else have I missed out on? There’s no doubt that God is accomplishing His plan with or without me. If I tell him “No”, He will still get the job done. But just like I missed out on four years of playing a sport that I love, I will also miss out on being a part of God’s wonderful plan.
So, even though it scares me to death, my prayer is that God will give me strength AND courage. Lord knows, I need it!