1) I need a wider circle of friends, and
2) I’m more uncomfortable than I want to be about sharing faith-stuff with people I don’t know very well. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about missions, evangelism and courage, and how to become a more courageous person.
Usually when I think about courage, my first instinct is to think of big, bold and decisive acts… but I think that’s a very narrow view of courage. Sometimes it takes more courage to follow Jesus day in and day out than we recognise. Courage doesn’t just have to be about extreme acts of bravery – sometimes courage might be simply inviting someone out for coffee who you notice doesn’t have many friends to talk to. Courage might be volunteering at an afterschool programme, even though kids terrify you. It takes courage for me to be open about faith and God when I’m hanging out with friends who I know think differently from me.
There are a few things that can freak me out, most of which are pretty run of the mill: spiders, mice, and snakes (which luckily we don’t have in NZ!) My biggest, and most extreme fear, is heights. When I plan a tramping trip with friends, I have to check the route beforehand and make sure that we aren’t going to spend four days wandering along exposed ridgelines, because I won’t make it if we do. My fear of heights is pretty bad… so last year, my friends were somewhat confused at my decision to jump out of a plane at 13 500 feet. I’m the girl who will sit down and wait while everyone else climbs the summit, so I can’t really blame them for being surprised.
When you go tandem skydiving, you have to empty your pockets, and then put on a jumpsuit and a cap, before posing for selfies in front of the plane. You and your instructor then walk to the plane, where you then basically have to sit on their lap for the next twenty minutes while you fly to the jump height. The instructor straps you together on the way up – and you hope they do it right, because you can’t help at all. Once you’re in the plane, there is no way out. The door opens, and you shuffle to the edge and swing your legs out… hang there for a moment… and then suddenly you’re falling. The actual act of falling out of a plane is the instructor’s job, and not yours, since their the one who pushes you out. Oddly enough, when I found myself falling towards the ground at 200 kilometres per hour, I wasn’t afraid, and thought it was great.
This skydiving analogy, although cheesy, is the best I’ve come up with so far in my current ponderings about courage. Courage isn’t listed as a gift or fruit of the Spirit, but I still think that it's something that God is actively at work shaping in us. I think that the way God causes us to become more courageous is similar to skydiving - we find ourselves in situations that are more uncomfortable, or harder than we would like them to be… but as we continue to follow God in those moments, courage is formed deep within us. We become more courageous people.
What would you like to be less afraid of, and more courageous about?
If you’re scared of heights, try skydiving. For the rest of us, remember that being courageous starts with small steps, and try to do something that makes you nervous this week.
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