That is the thing I ache for. the thing that I lack that keeps me up at night.

I am not afraid of physical dangers (except serial killers and great white sharks – BUT IT IS RIGHT TO FEAR SUCH THINGS).  I am not afraid of bugs. I am not afraid of sadness. I am not afraid of relationships.

I am afraid of being belittled.   I fear the feeling of littleness that comes from having dignity stripped away.  Your voice being taken from you.  Not being heard or believed.  I am afraid of that happening to people I love and I am afraid of that happening to me.

So, I avoid these dangers. I hide and I move, I duck and weave and I throw punches.  I protect anyone who might be in danger and I align with people who will protect me.  I seek people who will step in for me as fast as I would step in for them.  Who will get between me and whatever whip is coming.

I’ve always thought God is one of these.  And obviously He is.  Our great protector.

But our great God, He surely does work in mysterious ways.

So many times I’ve thought He failed to protect me because He wasn’t behaving in a way I understand as protection.  I want Him to step in, yank the whip out of someone’s hands and shut it down, but He doesn’t always do that.  I want Him to re-enact the Cross with mere mortals – letting all their human fists fall on Him so I don’t feel their sting.

But the thing is, He has already protected me that way, once, for all time, so that now we can have a different system of protection.  It’s Him – not outside of me, between me and the danger, but Him – inside my very soul, blowing me up like I’m a balloon person, making me stronger, able – giving me something I haven’t known how to name until now: courage.  I’ve called it strength, resilience, steadfastness and it is all those things, but it is more.  It is courage.

It is not just the ability to hear and take the hits and survive, it is the ability to walk into them if destiny decrees.  It is not freedom from the feeling of fear – it is freedom from slavery to that fear.  Anxiety over potential pain does not dictate where I walk.

Courage. Courage to move toward relationships that I value. Courage to wait patiently as people I love misunderstand.  Courage to stand my ground if people pick up stones; I may flinch and I may tremble, but I will not be herded like an animal.  Courage to face words in my own heart, courage to believe His promises even when they seem too good to be true. Because I’m strong, able and more than capable.  Because He has made a new thing in this body of mine – a new kind of creature – it is called us.  It is me and Him and together we can face anything.

Oh for 2017 to carry with it on its wings of grace – courage.  Courage to walk into church buildings – not without fear – but in spite of fear.  Courage to work hard at jobs that I don’t do perfectly.  Courage to try again.  Courage to fail again.  Courage that will stop me avoiding or fighting.  Courage to move toward and not away.  Sweet humble glorious courage.

Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.  

Me. I am the strong one.  I don’t need external protection. I don’t need someone to step in. Because I am strong in Him and He is strong in me – bleeding into all of me and inflating me slowly and slowly.

For even fear is beneath my feet now.  Fear – not driving me, not directing me, but submitting to me – to His will – our will.  The great us.  The most beautiful creation God has ever made – us.  Me, infected with the very courage of Him who walked there – to the culmination of shame that is what I fear most – not without fear, but through courage.

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