Courage

I have decided to follow Jesus. I've sung this since I was wearing childish bangs. These past few weeks, though, I have found myself needing some dose of courage. And true to His words, God provided me the encouragement to be brave.

I know I had been putting the decision off, thinking somehow that if I don't do anything or speak at all it will resolve itself. (Isn't that what we often wish? As if, evolution works!) But God works and in His mysterious way, He got my attention. Now I'm on to it and like a dog with a bone, I won't let go until I get my answer. The right one--- in line with His law of love.

I'm talking about being a mother, one who is given the responsibility to protect and raise God's children, providing them what they need and nurturing them to grow in the knowledge and grace of their Ultimate Parent. Because as women, we are builders of our homes. "The wise woman builds her house" (Proverbs 14:1). 


As we know, however, it doesn't come easy. Sometimes other people interfere or the mother and kids are not in the right environment to be free to decide for themselves, in other words, be independent. It is sad. And for mothers, it is frightening. There's nothing as heartbreaking as to witness your children influenced, even manipulated, to what you believe is against God's good will.

Complacency and each act of cowardice weakens our resolution to obey and follow. I have felt it and have known it. But there's a line between being patient with others and preserving the legacy of faith in the home. When each brick you've laid to build a home where Christ can dwell is being torn and discarded, it's time to do a Nehemiah act.

Nehemiah. He was the king's cupbearer at the time when the Jews were allowed to go back to live in Jerusalem. He heard of how his people were having a hard time rebuilding the city walls and had this God-given desire to build it. He saw the need and felt the burden. When he finally got permission from the king to go, and went back to Jerusalem, he realized the work wasn't easy. There was opposition. "They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it." (Nehemiah 4:8). But having a vision and fully committed to God's purpose, the purpose of rebuilding His people and the city, Nehemiah pressed on. When enemies threatened to destroy the work they were doing, this was what they did under Nehemiah's leadership...

But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat." (Nehemiah 4:9)

Maybe your family is enjoying the home that you are building, but even so, we know that there are threats all around, especially that Christ is coming soon and Satan is working doubly hard to confuse us and get us lost on our way home to our Heavenly Father. That is why Jesus warned, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
 (Matthew 26:41).

In Nehemiah's situation, he could have just said, "Oh, well. I think I'll stay here in Babylon." But Babylon is not Jerusalem, where God is not only the only god worshipped, but also the leader. In Babylon, idols are known as gods and are worshipped. And Nehemiah knew about God's purpose is--- for only Him to be worshipped and glorified and none else.

So if you find yourself and those God has placed under your care threatened into disobedience and apostasy, be brave like Nehemiah. Take courage.

1. Stand on God's Word.

When God said, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy," He meant exactly that. And when He said "You shall have no other gods before me," and the Israelites of old kept taking it for granted, they found themselves out of God's favor and into their enemy's hands, destroyed. God meant it.

So when you are beset by fear, because of what will happen if you follow God, remember this, He said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).  Joshua, with the Israelites facing their giants as they claim God's promise for them, said, “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law.. without turning aside to the right or to the left... you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now... the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God" (Joshua 23: 6, 8, 10-11).

That's what Nehemiah did despite what everybody was saying. He knew God's word and nobody, nobody, could sway him from it. Here's his account of what happened: (Nehemiah 4)

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, 
and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, 
we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, 
“Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall 
at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 

14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, 
and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” 

Yes, (let me repeat Nehemiah) remember the Lord! His Word said the He is great and awesome. Fight for your family, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes!

2. Pray.

There's no way of winning our spiritual warfare without prayer. All things we are fighting for are fought most of the time on our knees, and from there, we move to victory.

In prayer, we give up ourselves and commit our lives to God's will and purpose. In prayer, we are stripped of our pride and boastfulness for we cannot keep up any air of bravado before a mighty and awesome God. And so, we let go and we let Him do His work in us. In prayer, we know the real score. God is God and we are nothing without Him.

So Nehemiah and the people prayed. Then, they acted.

3. Be steadfast in obedience.

And this is the hard part. To act according to God's word.

We've claimed God's promises, we've talked with Him and now, it's time to act. If we have done the first two--- stand on God's word and pray unceasingly--- then fear is squashed and replaced with God's great love for us, then, we are able. But sometimes, fear looms and overtakes us that we are unable to move in obedience to God's word. Then, we have to do step 1 and 2 again, trust, then obey Him.

To obey is the radical part and that's where God moves for us in our behalf. The moment we commit, God commands the whole universe to aid us in fulfilling His purpose. His purpose. That's the most important thing here. If it's not God's purpose any of our plans will be thwarted.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

It is God who directs our steps and nothing in this world prevails without His will and purpose.

And so in building or rebuilding our homes, remember this:

Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; 
Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. 
(Psalm 127:1)

Do you know how long it took for Nehemiah and the people to build the walls, even with opposition, even under oppression? Fifty-two days! Less than two months! And it was recorded, "So the wall was finished... in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God" (Nehemiah 6:15, 16). Yes, only God can do that.

And only God can rebuild the broken within us. Let Him rebuild His life back in you.

When the wall that distinguishes us from the world is broken down, and we are not living any differently from the way the world lives, God is not glorified through His people's lives (1 Peter 2:9, 10). In obedience to Him, His work is manifested in our lives and His glory shines.

So whether you are still in the process of making a decision or have made the decision already, check whether it's in obedience to His purpose in your life. If it is, do it. Do not fear for He is for you. Take courage and act in His Spirit, power, providence and purpose.

As for me, I'm going to keep on singing: I have decided to follow Jesus... (insert music notes). No turning back! And I'll keep on praying and building until my little ones will join me.







You may also want to read...




Trusting God with Life's Adventures
I'm Coming Home!: Helping a Child with Trauma
Embracing God's Promises

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