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Matthew Bauer

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You are here:  blog  >  February 2012  >  Be Strong and Very Courageous

Be Strong and Very Courageous

takecourageMy copy of Courageous came in the mail last week, after months of waiting for it to come out on DVD. I think I cried more this time than when I watched it in the theater. What a great call to men that they rise up and claim the identity as fathers that has been so incredibly modeled by our Heavenly Father. But I wonder, what stole our courage to begin with?

There is a core question at the heart of every man. It drives who we are and what we do. It propels us forward in courage or it holds us back in fear. It shapes our character. It challenges our faith. It stretches our understanding. It consumes our self-image and our image of God. It is that aching question, “Do I have what it takes?”

There is also that burning question in the heart of a woman. It sounds different to the untrained ear, but the question of identity is the same. It means something very much the same as the man’s question, but it touches quite a bit deeper on the heart and is far truer to our genuine desire. “Am I beautiful?” she asks. “Am I worthy of love?”

And so, together, both man and woman search for their identity through these questions, really asking “Who am I?” “Am I really who God says that I am?” “Am I really worthy to be a son or daughter of the High King?” And as we struggle to love, we ask, “Am I lovely?” (or loveable).

As we ask these questions, seeking whether we will succeed or fail at who we were made to be, we find ourselves most often on one of two roads. Either we find ourselves trying to prove ourselves – our beauty, our ability, our courage, our strength, our worthiness – or we spend our time running, hiding from who we are to avoid every risk of failure (or rather, ensuring our failure by not trying; at least then we’re in control of our fate).

These deep desires – the wild, adventurous, conquering spirit of man; the gentle, beautiful, captivating strength of woman – speak so true to our creation, to the purpose that God spoke over us in the beginning. They are not our weaknesses, as so many would believe (just look at how our lives attest to it), but the very essence of who we were created to be.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Genesis 1:27-28

How glorious it must have been! Man and woman, together, ruling over creation; bringing it under submission; conquering the earth in all its power and beauty and majesty; living in fruitfulness; rejoicing in the beauty of creation, beautiful themselves (and woman, foremost) as the pinnacle of God’s creation; found in the very likeness of the glory of God! Until we decided that we were somehow insufficient for the role God had given us, and we ate of the forbidden fruit to try to compensate for our weakness. That’s where our hiding began.

And throughout time, we’ve shaped and altered this idea of man and woman – our masculine and feminine identities – based on this hiding; based on our fears; based on our striving to fill some insufficiency between who we were created to be and what we were created to do. But this insufficiency cannot be filled by ourselves! This insufficiency is our reliance on GOD to fill our weakness. But in our strive for independency, our masculine sensitivity is repressed; our feminine strength is repressed; our likeness to God is repressed, and we find ourselves in a world of divorce, broken families, absent or abusive fathers, homosexuality (which is just searching for masculine or feminine validation in someone else’s strength or beauty), and all sorts of battles of the sexes, because no one really knows what it means to be a man or woman of God anymore.

There is another way, however. It’s not striving to prove ourselves, and it’s not hiding from our weakness and insecurity. It’s not searching for answers, staying in control, or trying to fill a void. It’s not bettering ourselves to be all-sufficient, superhuman, dominant men and look-at-me women. The other way is found not in running ahead, but in following; not in controlling our destiny, but in surrender; not in doing, but in being; not in proving ourselves, but in finding ourselves; not in overcoming our weakness, but in finding God’s strength.

Beauty again will be a reflection of the inside (as opposed to trying to hide it). Strength again will be a reflection of inward resolution and trust in the unshakeable. Courage will not be out of trust in ourselves (or reckless abandon of ourselves), but out of faith in God and all His promises.

You see, it takes great courage to blaze a trail; to go where no man has gone before; to step out and prove our greatness to the world. But it takes far greater courage to surrender everything to follow someone else; to entrust our whole being to another; to put our lives and our fears and our insecurities and our destiny in the hands of someone else; to be found as putty in their hands, completely vulnerable, completely moldable, shapeable, useable; not denying our individuality, but embracing it by letting God make it great in us. That takes far greater courage, because while blazing a trail is dangerous and risks losing you everything, following God guarantees it.

Following God takes true courage. It is where we will find ourselves truly great, because it is where we will find ourselves again in His image. It’s the road less traveled, for sure, but it’s a great and awesome adventure! Do we have what it takes? No. Are we worthy? No. But God is, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. And how great His love for us, that He considers us so great, even in our imperfection!

It’s time to be men and women of courage; to take up our crosses and follow Him. And we don’t take up the cross that brings suffering (for Christ suffered for us all), but we take up the cross that brings freedom and new life, as we surrender to Him in each and every way; following step-by-step, not knowing where we’re going or what we need when we get there, but compelled by His Spirit to see what the Father sees, to feel what the Father feels, to speak what the Father says, and to do what the Father does. That’s true courage. That’s true freedom. That’s abundant life at its finest.

Posted: 2/7/2012 3:04:47 PM by Matthew Bauer | with 0 comments
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