Bravery’s price

Someone told me today I was brave. My feat? Standing in front of a room full (maybe 50 or so) of writers, mostly Christian, I assume, and sharing for a few minutes what God had put on my heart about the need to write His stories. It’s only the second time I can clearly remember someone calling me brave. (The other was on a New Year’s Eve date disaster. My date, my friend, her boyfriend and I went to a dance club/bar in Iowa that allowed minors. My friend and her boyfriend got in a fight on the way there, and my date would have been more comfortable in a line-dancing type of club. Tired of sitting at the table doing nothing, I got up and joined a group of strangers on the dance floor. When I returned to my table, my date said, “Boy, you sure are brave.”)

Most of the time, “brave” is not a word I would use to describe myself. Shoot, tonight I was even slightly afraid to take laundry to the basement by myself. And I usually think that if I was ever in a situation that required bravery, I would be the one cowering in the corner, praying for it to be over without incident.

The “brave” comment brought to mind a Sara Groves song that almost always makes me cry when I hear it. In “When the Saints,” she sings of how the courage of other saints, past and present, drives her to keep up the good fight. Here’s an excerpt:

‘”I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharaoh’s court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in

I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sister standing by the dying man’s side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
and when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them”

It’s that last part that always gets me … “the world on his shoulders and my easy load.” I’m humbled and challenged by all of these scenarios, and I know my faith is weak in comparison. I have no fear that I won’t go to heaven, but I long to join this band of saints who weren’t and aren’t afraid to do the hard things in the name of the Lord.

Brave? Hardly. But I’m learning to cling to the promise: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NASB)

And what follows that promise is a challenge. Because God has given us power, love and discipline, “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me (Paul) His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” (vv. 8-9, NASB)

To be brave comes with a price, and I know I haven’t come close to paying it yet.