Courageous Journeys

What defines a courageous journey?

There are a lot of words floating around on this idea of courage, bravery, or fearlessness, but what is it really? How do you define it? Better yet, how do you live a life of courage?

One of my favorite movie trilogies is The Lord of the Rings. Yeah, I’m that girl. Whatever that means.

The movies are filled with some epic battle scenes–a fight between good and evil on a massive scale. And so often, good seems completely outnumbered leaving the viewer thinking, “Are they gonna pull this off?!”

(Seriously, they’re incredible movies–you should probably go watch them. Read this first, then watch them.)

But what stands out to me more than the epic battle scenes are the moments right before. There’s a decision that must be made–go or don’t go, fight or don’t fight, stand or don’t stand. A brief moment when each person must buy into the journey ahead of them, a decision that is theirs and theirs alone.

And that, right there, is the defining moment of the next step of the journey. The prelude to the next scene–either we’re gonna get there, or we aren’t.

You see, what I’ve come to believe is this… what makes your journey courageous is not how big or small the steps are, or how perilous the outcome has the potential to be. No, what makes your journey courageous is that you take the steps–forward, not held back by fear, frozen in place by what you do not know.

This is courageous.

To be clear, courage and fearlessness, not the same thing. I’ve actually always struggled with that word “fearless”. I’m not convinced it’s possible or should be the goal. We’re often quick to jump to the conclusion that fear is a bad thing, but isn’t it the body and mind’s natural response to the unknown? Something rises up within us that says, “I don’t know, are we sure?”

That doesn’t sound like a bad question to me.

Where fear becomes a problem is when it keeps us from doing the things we are meant to do–frozen in place, unable to take the next step forward that we know we’re meant to take.

I love the story of Jesus walking on water. A pretty popular song was written out of said story. Perhaps you’ve heard of it and it’s never-ending, repetitive bridge? Okay, the repetitiveness of worship songs is not the point of this. (But really guys, two or three times through, and I’m good.)

So the story of Jesus walking on water is one of my favorites in the New Testament. I love the interaction that happens between Jesus and Peter. It’s powerful.

Two things happen in this story that are stand out moments to me. First, Jesus speaks to Peter’s fear and calls out to him, “Take courage.”

It’s an incredible moment. Jesus doesn’t say to Peter, “Don’t be afraid.”

In that moment, it’s not about Peter being fearless. Instead, Jesus acknowledges that fear exists. He gives permission to Peter to recognize it too–to understand that response is natural. Jesus knows that Peter is afraid. And so He speaks to that place of fear and calls out to Peter, “Take courage.”

What follows is a moment where Peter looks out to Jesus standing on top of the water and says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come.”

And this ushers in the second stand out moment. Without missing a beat, Jesus, eyes locked on Peter, says “Come.”

Why is this incredible?

Because I truly believe this… Living a life of courage is acknowledging that fear that rises up–it’s about recognizing it exists in the room with us. And then, courageous living is about standing up and speaking to that fear. It’s about looking it in the eyes and saying “Fear, take a seat, because I’m about to walk where you’re standing–because Jesus said I can come.”

Your courageous journey begins and ends with recognizing Jesus’ call to you to “Come”–to step into that thing you’ve been dreaming of doing, to step into that place you can use the gifts He’s given you, to step into creating that thing you’re passionate about doing.

This is courageous.

A courageous journey is one walked in authority over fear, not held in place by it. It’s daily decisions to go, to fight, to stand, to walk, to move forward toward the very place the Lord has said, “Come.”

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