Living Brave

braveart01aBrave is a word I keep running into these days.  You might even call it a current “buzz” word.

I’m not a big fan of using trendy terms.  I’m just not.  Why use the “common” term when I can say it in 100 other ways.  The creative in me rebels.

But I do pay attention to themes.  God speaks so often in surround sound.

Words are just collections of letters unless we live them.  Brave is a word I know well.  You might even call it a life theme.  23 surgeries by the time I was 13 years old, I came of age through a journey that demanded me to be brave.  And while I would wish much of it on no one, I am grateful for every hard moment now.  I would not be who I now am except by being forged from the fire of my own story fused with His story right in the middle of adversity.

I can do all things through Him and because He is with me, I am brave.

But what does brave mean?  It is so easy to use buzz words without bothering to really define them.

Moving 3 times across the planet site unseen, the last time of which planted me pioneering a rescue home for children in a war zone in Africa and being part of seeing the world’s newest nation be born.  Staring down loaded machine guns, going 18 rounds with cerebral malaria, trusting God for the next meal for a family well over 100, staying put in the middle of rebel attack.  By any definition, people would probably call that litany of life events brave.  I call it grace.

Brave is what I lived out before ever reaching Africa and the bravest part of my journey is the part I am living out now.

It is easy to put your brave face on when the world is cheering you on.   Sometimes the bravest acts of all are the silent victories hard won in secret struggles the world doesn’t know you have ever fought.  I used to jump on a plane and fly 3 days to get home to my family in Africa with barely a second thought.  But now there are days I physically fight to drive 4 minutes away and do basic grocery shopping.  Right now some days getting to the grocery store for me is braver than flying to Africa ever was.

Brave is brave.  The external context doesn’t define what qualifies as brave.  It’s about the inside reality.

Brave is keeping going when everything shouts give up!  Brave is knowing you are so loved by Jesus that even if everyone walks away, you know you are OK because He never will.  Brave is being YOU as He created you to be and not settling for the popular mold.  Brave is daring authenticity, integrity and transparency in a world and many times a church context powered by image.  Brave is refusing to reduce your theology to the level of your experience and conversely refusing to create your theology merely out of your experience. 

Brave is the faith that conquers kingdoms, administers justice, and gains what was promised; that shuts the mouths of lions, quenches the fury of flames, and escapes the edge of the sword.  Brave is faith that turns weakness to strength and raises the dead.  {Heb 11:33-34} But brave is even more this:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.  {Heb. 11:35-38}

Brave comes when you know you are wholly loved.  Perfect, complete, mature love drives out ALL fear.  Brave doesn’t mean you never feel afraid and brave certainly isn’t muscling through fear on some adrenalin overdrive.  Brave is being real while being so filled with God’s love that when fear comes knocking there is no room for it stay.

Brave isn’t formed in the middle of glamorous epic motion picture worthy events. Brave comes from living loved a little more each day and loving in the messy, mundane realities of daily life.  Brave is forged in adversity one choice at a time as God’s love becomes bigger than any battle we can ever face.  And it is from the hidden daily battles we fight day in and day out that some of the truest triumphs of His grace emerge.

I’m made brave by love.  I’m kept brave by grace.  The answer isn’t more brave.  The answer is more Jesus.