I have wanted to put these thoughts into well-formed words. I simply lack anything like the time (after that one open weekend, things have gone back to their old pressure again so far.) So, let me jot down a quick couple of paragraphs, in raw form, and see what we make of it.
I was raised Assemblies of God. The church I was in was fundamentalist-charismatic. We expected God to hear us and help us with guidance, healing, and control of our circumstances. We followed a living and active God.
I learned from them that courage was a bad thing.
"What!?" you ask.
Really. Maybe I should not have, but I did.
+ If we were quiet, God would lead us into all truth.
+ If we were obedient, God would keep us.
+ If we prayed sincerely, God would answer our prayers.
+ If we asked, He would heal.
+ If we were spiritual, He would keep us in perfect peace.
+ If our circumstances were bad, faith would still rejoice in Him.
The unintended consequence of those teaches was I learned courage was bad. Courage was what you had to get by on if your faith was not up to the task.
Faith was the ultimate, "Happy place."
Are you worried that your marriage is about to end? Quiet yourself before the Lord. Obey His commands. Pray sincerely, and get everyone else praying, too. Ask that He heal you, your spouse and your marriage. Give Him all your distressed feelings, and take His peace in their place. And keep praying until you find it in your heart to rejoice.
In quietness and confidence is your strength, so now wait on Him.
That doesn't work.
Courage is needed. Courage admits how very afraid I am, and looks my problems square in the eye and makes a plan. I have found that applying courage where I used to apply my misunderstood faith has begun to make me a happy person for the first time in my life. Happy with myself, and happy with my Lord.
In my life, I have been finding:
+ Courage seeks wisdom, not answers, then decides.
+ Courage acts, instead of just obeying.
+ Courage prays, then works, instead of waiting for the clouds to part.
+ Courage spends its life with God, knowing He may heal, but rehabbing hard until then.
+ Courage finds peace in a good exhaustion, rather than hoping God drops it from heaven.
+ Courage lets me rejoice in the team God and I make.
Picture a father and his munchkin working at chopping down a tree. They take turns with the axe. You and I can both guess who's really making chips. But if that little boy gets scared and stands 100 feet away, exercising faith that daddy can get everything done safely, he learns nothing.
But if that boy is standing one hatchet length away from that tree when it begins to sway, and if he decides where to strike next, and if he hits that place (even on the third try) and that tree begins to fall, he is going to experience the exhilaration of having stuck out a big, scary job. And he's going to be that little bit closer to being a man, because of who he and his father were as a team. That burst of pride he is going to feel is a good thing, and the first thing he'll do with it is turn around share it in a beaming smile with his father.
Losing a marriage, or losing a church, or facing an illness is a mighty, mighty tree to face.
Real faith makes a plan and grabs the hatchet.