On January 31, 2012, Jon Shehane drew his last earthly breath. His heart stopped; his cancer surrendered- its ravenous appetite having been the instrument of its demise. The difficult labor ended, and he was delivered from chemotherapy, radiation, and pain meds. I wish I could have seen his spirit escape its broken shell. It occurs to me now that I should have smiled and waved goodbye, but I didn’t think of that then. I did know he was headed for a grand adventure.
Afterwards, one of my friends told me it was good that I had “my faith” to keep me going, making faith sound like a talent, akin to doing triple digit mental math, yodeling, or playing the marimba. She failed to understand that only an authentic object could produce a viable faith. Well, I knew the object, “the author and perfecter of my faith”, but I found that more was needed to keep me moving forward. Without courage, faith can be stalled.
Until it was pointed out to me that I wasn’t very brave, I’d have said that faith and courage were a package deal. Then, I did a little research and discovered that Biblical heroes were always being told to ” take courage” or to “gird up their loins”. My private belief that I was fairly brave- except for the fear of drowning thing, or the torture thing, or for the flopping fish thing- didn’t hold water. Brave people apply their faith moment by moment. Their lives are filled with quiet decisions to do the right thing over and over and over again. Courage is chosen. Courage is a habit.
But how does courage work its way into my daily “feed the horses, do the laundry, answer the phone” life? I think that opportunities for courage arise when I see that there are eternal implications for each action, and I respond appropriately. If the Divine really uses time for His purposes and my eternal good, it makes sense to try to square this present view with a future, grander one- even though all sorts of voices tell me that I’m not smart enough, or important enough, or brave enough to have any impact on my world.
I keep coming back to this: the present, where choices are made and courage is required, is the place where we touch eternity. Ruth, poor and obscure, had no way of knowing that her decision to stick it out with Naomi would make her a predecessor of kings.
Where God is leading us, it is folly not to follow….
“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3: 11