October 16, 2017
by David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
What are you scared of? For most of the 12 spies Moses sent to scout the Promised Land "flowing with milk and honey," it was the giants who lived there. In Numbers 13:27-32 they said, "We can't attack those people; they're way stronger than we are" (NIV 1984). Then, they spread scary rumors among the people of Israel.
Remember the result of their disobedience? They wandered in the desert for 40 years.
God has called you to go into an unknown land. What "giants" do you fear? Maybe it is the giant of isolation from friends and family, or perhaps you are afraid of the giant healthcare issues you will face without backup. For me, it was the giant of educating our children overseas and the possibility of separation if they had to go to boarding school. Maybe your giant is just the uncertainty of what God has in store and the countless challenges you will face in making your call a reality- picking a mission organization, raising your support, learning a foreign language, cultural adaptation or working in a hostile country.
I have good news! God specializes in destroying giants.
He does not call you for what He will not equip you to accomplish.
He says to you what He said to Joshua and the Israelites when they were on the brink of crossing the Jordan to finally make His promise a reality in Deuteronomy 31:1-8. "Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you" (Deuteronomy 31:7, MSG).
What is courage? The dictionary says it is, "the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action."
Better than Webster, I like the "Wayne" definition. John Wayne put it this way, "Courage is being scared to death-and saddling up anyway."
Courage is not pulling yourself up by your soul's bootstraps. Your source of courage is:
- Knowing God has told you to go. The Holy Spirit, just like He spoke to Moses ("And God told me..." in Deuteronomy 31:1, MSG), has spoken to you. You follow His direction out of love and because of His promise. "...Do what I command so that your lives will go well" (Jeremiah 7:23, MSG). You can have confidence in His commands.
- Knowing God is with you. Verse 6 makes no bones about it. "God, your God, is striding ahead of you. Here's right there with you..." (Deuteronomy 31:6, MSG). You are not alone. Courage is not something you have to psych yourself up to have. You already have the most experienced, most knowledgeable and most powerful entity in the universe with you. He can handle anything.
- Knowing you can trust God. Note Moses said three times, God will give you the land, God will prosper you and God will give you success. God is not only capable, but He is willing to do what He promised to do. You can take Psalm 37:5 to the bank, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and He will do this" (NIV 1984). You must go by faith, not feelings.
Harry Fosdick said it well: "Fear imprisons; faith liberates; fear paralyzes; faith empowers; fear disheartens; faith encourages; fear sickens; faith heals; fear makes useless; faith makes serviceable."
Dr. Haddon Robinson said it even more succinctly: "What worries you, masters you."
The measure of courage is the willingness to act. What is the next step you should take to complete the call God has put on your life?
On a trip to Kenya a few years ago, I was driving out in the bush with my family when I saw a 10-foot long snake slithering across the sand road in front of me. There are few "good" snakes in Kenya, but many poisonous ones. I hit the accelerator determined to run over it.
The snake was not intimidated.
It stopped, reared the front third of its body and spread its broad neck. Irrationally fearing it was going to come in through a window or the floorboards, I slammed on the brakes stopping inches away from the hissing mouth of a giant king cobra. By the time I realized I was in a two-ton Land Rover facing a 20-pound snake, he had dropped to the ground, slithered under the vehicle and was gone.
That was one brave snake! When I face giants in my life, I remember I can be like that cobra with this little acronym. I can have:
O-bey what He has told me to do because I
B-elieve God will do what He promised to do. I can
R-est in His abilities and our relationship. All I need to do is
A-ct and He will do the rest.
Have courage! Your giants will fall.