Our Source for Strength, Courage, and Action

“Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20 (NASB95))

There are those rare moments in life where we must face a seemingly impossible situation that requires us to engage, to be strong and to act in the moment. In those times we must  replace our fear with courage, and our inaction with action. Such was the case of Lenny Skutnick, who on January 13, 1982 was one of the many who witnessed the heroic first responders rescue efforts to save survivors of an airplane crash into the icy Potomac River in Washington, D.C.  During the rescue operations a helicopter tried to rescue a stewardess struggling in the icy river:

“Twice she slipped from the rope dropped to her and fell back into the icy Potomac. Seeing that her strength was gone, Skutnick shed his coat and boots, jumped into the water, and swam thirty yards to her rescue. Questioned by the press afterward about his motivation, Skutnick replied: “I had been there all that time and nobody was getting in the water… It’s something I never thought I would do, but in looking back, I guess I did it because I didn’t think about it. Somebody had to go in the water.”

Solomon, King David’s son, faced his own fears as he begin to grasp the magnitude of the legacy and responsibility of leadership that his Dad was entrusting him with.  King David recognized that he would not be the one to see the vision fulfilled of the temple being built in Jerusalem, rather he chose to entrust the building plans for the temple to his son to complete.

David recognized that God has a role and plan for everyone in this life. His was that of a solider, not a builder. His was that of a visionary and not that of an administrator that would carry out the details of this enormous project. Not only would Solomon be charged with building the temple, but he would one day be King. The legacy of his father would be on his shoulders. David understood this, and he understood the pressures of leadership. But he wanted to give his son the most valuable piece of advice he could, and that was to remind him that God would be with him, that it was through God’s hand that David had been able to successfully navigate and manage the duties of the kingdom that God had charged him with.

Most often we don’t face the life and death moments that Lenny Skutnick faced, nor will any of us likely be handed a kingdom to reign or the plans to a temple to build. Yet as believers we are called upon to live out our lives with courage while depending upon God for the strength to act as his ambassadors in this life.

I have found in my life that real courage is needed to simply face each day that life offers us. Life is hard. It takes courage, strength, and a will to act in order to face the challenges before us. The challenges are different for each of us, but the source of our strength and the power to enable us to act is common to all those that believe and have placed their faith in Christ as their personal savior.

In this life we need not live in fear, even in the face of fearful circumstances. The disciples understood this concept many years after David was gone. They experienced firsthand what it was to have fear, and at the same moment to see how God overcame their fears and enabled them to complete the tasks that God had planned for their lives.

Be  encouraged to trust God in the midst of your circumstances, allow Him to be the source of your courage, strength, and ability to act while trusting Him completely for the outcome.

The Depth of Love

Recently, I saw a demonstration of the harsh environment of the ocean in a news report. Scientists were showing the effects of water pressure on various objects at depths of fifteen thousand feet. These various everyday objects were taken by a deep sea submarine to the great depths of the ocean. When they were returned to the surface, they did so, crushed to a fraction of their original size. All this owing to the great pressures found at such incredible depths.

This poignant picture caused me to consider the strength of love. Love faces great pressures each day, pressures from the effects of our lives, from the challenges we face, from our choices, and I suppose ultimately from our natural hearts. We naturally do not possess the shielding required to preserve ourselves under these conditions.

Thankfully we have a place we can draw upon to build up the strength, to love ourselves and others, in the face of the many great difficulties and challenges of this life.

I speak of course of the love of Christ.

According to the scriptures, God’s most amazing and eternal love, has been given to each of us who trust Him and have surrendered to Him, “…God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”(Rom 5:5)

And this love that He has given us can never be taken from us. “…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Rom 8:39)

The scriptures tell us that love has many qualities, including the fact that love seeks to trust, to hope, and to persevere.

Life is hard. And sometimes those closest to us are the ones that say or do things that can really challenge us. For the Believer though, we must seek to view those times through the lens of God, utilizing the Love that he has placed in our hearts. With this love we must seek to exhibit His patience to those we love, as He does each day for us. After all, none of us are very far from His Grace. For that we can be thankful.

To love someone deeply, is to not be easily angered when they do unloving things, to not dishonor them, to not keep any record of wrongs, and to remember, that in the end, true love never fails.

Let me conclude by sharing an excerpt from the Apostle Paul, a note about love that he recorded in a letter to the members of an early church, in the city of Corinth in about AD 55. His observations about Love are timeless.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Get Out Of Jail

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” -Colossians 2:8

It was many years ago as a teenager, sitting on the deck of a small mountain cabin on a warm sunny day. The pine trees whispered quite nothings as the gentle breezes passed through their green needles.  Around the sturdy redwood picnic table sat my family and I. It was early afternoon, and before us was the game board. To be exact it was a Monopoly game board. My parents, brothers, and little sister would take turns laughing and playing this game for hours at a time. This was all part of our yearly summer trek to Lake Tahoe on a family vacation. Dad was pretty good and won his share of games…but as we kids got older, and started to figure it out, he had to work a lot harder to stay in the game with us.

For those not familiar with this classic game, each player would be given the same starting amount of cash, and a playing piece. We all started from the same place. Players in turn would roll a pair of dice and move their piece around the perimeter of the board a corresponding number of squares. The squares depicted property with an associated sales price. In simplest terms, the winner was the person who purchased the most property and had the most cash at the end of the game.

Along the way however, there were two types of squares one could land on that were called “Chance” and “Community Chest.” Landing on these squares required the player to draw a card of the same name from one of two card decks placed on the board. The cards contained either good news or bad news. A player might have to pay some type of tax, or perhaps they would receive a bonus. Fortunes could be changed depending upon these occasional random cards one might get. One particular card was a “Get of Jail Free Card.” Coveted because one square was a “Go directly to Jail” square, and getting out of Jail cost something.

Once in “Jail” a player would no longer be able to participate in the regular goings on of the game. Opportunities were missed while everyone else who was not in jail played and enjoyed the challenges faced during each turn. But having a “Get out Of Jail” card was the ticket to freedom and the ability to enjoy the game to its fullest without missing a turn.

Many years later, as my son and I played this game during a Thanksgiving Holiday break, I pondered how much life was a bit like a game of Monopoly. We all start as captives (Romans 5:12) held firmly in the grip of our fallen nature. As a result, while yet captives; we cannot enjoy the life that God designed us to enjoy. He desires for us to live our lives to the fullest, (John 10:10) but as captives we cannot. Unless of course we had a supernatural “Get out of Jail” card. In this case we do! His name is Jesus. Only He can give us lasting eternal freedom from captivity.

You see, God loves each of us…in fact He pursues each of us with a passion that goes beyond anything we can describe in mere words. (John3:16) And if we respond to his gentle voice, we can each have a personal relationship with Him. That relationship is what will set us free to live our lives to the fullest each day. Rather than roll the dice of life and rely upon chance and our own strength, why not go with a sure thing and receive Jesus into your life right now? Start the healthiest relationship you will ever have, be free and live your life as God intended for you to live it…to the fullest!