Good morning all!
Hebrews 10:32-39 (NRSV)
32 But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.34 For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. 35 Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet
“in a very little while,
the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one will live by faith.
My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.”
39 But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
― E.E. Cummings
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
― Brené Brown
During my third year of seminary, I started a year of field of education in a congregation on the west side of Chicago that was predominately Mexican and Guatemalan. When I went to interview at this church, I went with lots of trepidation because I didn’t think my Spanish was all that polished. The folks at the seminary had thought this would be a good spot for me due to my experience with cross cultural settings. I went very cautious that I maybe could not do the most that I could in this space. I got ont he L train and headed to the West, having no idea what I would walk into. This neighborhood is known for gangs and violence or at least it was a few years ago. I went thinking I should turn around the entire way…what if I am not accepted? What if my spanish sucks? What if I am way out of my league? When I arrived, I cautiously stepped off of the L and meandered into the church.
When I walked into the church, I got the overwhelming sense that even though this wasn’t where I came from, I was home for a bit. I knew that God would do things with me here. I met with the pastor and knew right away that I would learn sooo much from Fernando, including help with my Spanish and a nudge into places I never knew I would go.
This placement was one of the most influential times of my life and really nudged me to going into pastoral ministry. By the end of the year, I had worked with gangs, domestic violence, learned more than I ever could have about the homeless population, sat with people through all sorts of life changes, preached in Spanish, and took on hard conversations….I went into spaces that I never thought I could. I had no idea that God would call me into these spaces and by the time the year ended I went back to my advisor to tell him that I would need to go into the church rather than phd programs. As I look back, there were some places that I never could have thought I could have been in before…what was I thinking?
It was because I wasn’t really thinking about how courageous I had to be, I just went were I could learn and where I was called. It didn’t feel dangerous to me, it felt like a passionate place for me to be in. I loved it with my whole heart.
It didn’t feel as though I had to muster courage and endurance but I knew that it would be there if I needed to call upon it.
The crew of Hebrews is doing a new thing and they are venturing into spaces they didn’t ever think they would be in. This letter is to remind them of where God gives them strength in all of those spaces…prison, new life, persecution…God gives them courage and endurance. We all need these reminders in the midst of where we have already shown great courage. Most of the time, we may not even know that where we have let ourselves be called is courageous space until we zoom out. And yet God still adds the courageous spaces…our job is to say yes to that. Some days we don’t even want to go there and yet something is calling us to that space. When we say yes to that, God will show up. You have that endurance and courage within you but you have to get off the train and walk in.
Where are you needing courage today? Where are you being called into spaces? Where has God met you in those places?