A few years ago, we took a family vacation to the beach. My daughter, just five at the time, spent most of her time far away from the water. When she did move closer toward the ocean, it was always with her hand fastened in mine. She would stand a few inches from the breaking waves using her big toe to write her name in the sand. My gentle coaxing did little to ignite her dormant adventurous spark until two of her friends, along with their mother, decided to swim out to a sandbar about 20 feet away.
“Where did that island come from, Mommy?” she asked.
“The sea level dropped in that spot and our friends are going to investigate. It won’t be there for long . . . would you like to check it out?”
“Um . . . I don’t think so . . . wait . . . you’ll go with me, right?”
“Of course,” I replied.
“Well, okay then. I trust you . . . so . . . yes . . . yes, I’m going to go for it,” she squealed with delight and tightened her grip.
Her bravado waned when the waves thrashed against her waist. Sensing her fear, I picked her up, rested her against my hip, and reassured her with words of comfort.
“I won’t make you keep going if you don’t want to go, but if you still want to explore the island, I promise to hold you tight. I’ll keep you safe and make sure your head does not go under water. What would you like to do?”
Pressing her forehead against mine she smiled then panted, “I’m going to be brave. Let’s do this together.”
Her feet danced before reaching the sand as we stepped onto the island. Exhilaration exuded as she gleefully jumped up and down exclaiming, “I did it!”
My daughter learned some lessons about true courage that day. While I permitted her to enjoy the glory of her accomplishment, I knew that her newly garnered courage did not come from believing in herself. In fact, if that were the case, she would have demonstrated a reckless foolishness and rushed into the water unassisted.
Instead, she realized her limits and placed her little life into the arms of someone reliable. Someone whom she knew would never sacrifice her safety.
By providing my daughter security as we ventured to the sand bar, I also subtly instilled in her a fundamental element of courage . . . trust.
Sometimes trust comes easily. My daughter’s willingness to venture to the sandbar in the face of fear was inspired by her wanting to explore with her friends. Trusting me made it easier to do something that she wanted to do in the first place.
Often, trusting God means doing things that I’m hesitant to do because living in this crazy, misguided world requires courage nearly every waking minute.
Taking a stand for truth requires courage.
Stepping over the invisible line that marks our zones of comfort requires courage.
Obedience to God’s calling requires courage.
Trusting God and responding with reverence means taking the emphasis off of myself, focusing on Him, tightly grabbing His hand and saying, “I’m going to be brave. Let’s do this together.”
True courage is not blind or brash. Courage comes from believing that the ultimate outcome will be good.
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“The Lord will hand over to you the people who live there, and you must deal with them as I have commanded you. So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, ‘Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land.’” Deuteronomy 31:5-7 NLT