But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
No one sets out to chicken out. Everyone wants to be brave. It’s what we admire. It’s what we seek. It’s what we want. So, what happens when you aren’t what you want to be?
Last summer I attempted a high ropes course meant for students at Hume Lake Christian Camp. I cheered the middle schoolers on as they made their way across each obstacle. I was the one yelling, “Way to go!” when they leapt out to grab the swinging rope and land on a wooden island of a platform, suspended high in the trees.
To me, it all looked easy. Until I got up there myself. And my legs began to shake, and I seemed to have lost all control over my appendages. After about five minutes, I was the one asking if I could get down. I was the one chickening out. I was the one who wasn’t brave.
This summer I made a major life change. I stepped out in a giant leap of faith…for about a day. Like those middle schoolers, I reached out for that swinging rope. Until I panicked. And then I stepped right back into safety and what felt more secure. As much as I wanted to keep leaping, I just couldn’t do it. And I disappointed myself. I wasn’t the brave that I wanted to be.
We all want to be brave. No one wants to be the cowardly lion. Everyone wants to have a Braveheart. We want to be the hero or heroine of our own lives. We want to believe with all that is in us….”I can do all things through Him who gives me my strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Except sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we won’t. And the same Paul who wrote that he could do all things, also referred to boasting about his weakness. As much as we want bravery, sometimes we aren’t brave at all. So, then what?
Sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we’re weak. Sometimes we aren’t the hero or heroine that we want to be. Our hearts aren’t brave. We chicken out. Where is the safety net for times like these?
After getting down from that ropes course, I kept replaying those moments in my mind, trying to figure out what went wrong. Why did the thing that looked so easy suddenly get so hard?
After stepping back from my giant leap of faith, I did the same. For weeks I wondered what happened. Why couldn’t I move forward? Why did I panic? Why did my weakness get the best of me? Why wasn’t I brave, at least in a lasting way?
Until I realized that it doesn’t matter. As the well-known saying goes, it is what it is. A dear friend who was advising me as I made these major life choices kindly said to me, “I just don’t want you to feel like you chickened out.” But the reality is that I did. It is what it is.
So, where is God when it is what it is? Where was He as I chickened out? What was He thinking as He watched me kindly ask if I could step back on the platform, and enter back into what felt more safe? Had I disappointed Him as well?
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
When we chicken out, God is there. When we freak out, it doesn’t freak Him out. No panic of ours surprises our God. When it is what it is, when we aren’t the brave we want to be, He still is. His grace still is. He is sufficient.
You see, when I tried that ropes course, I forgot something really important. I was strapped in. Somehow, up high in those trees, I forgot that I was strapped in. I didn’t think about how the tethers would catch me should I fall. All I could think about was falling, and my legs gave way beneath me.
When we chicken out, we are tethered. When we back out, He has us. When we change our minds, or don’t follow through. When we aren’t brave, He’s the safety net beneath us. We are securely tethered to the God who watches over our coming and going. The God who never sleeps. The God of the ones who chicken out.
So, as much as we want to be brave, we can rest even in our not-so-brave times. God comes close to cowardly lions. He’s sufficient for those who aren’t brave of heart.
Because if it’s my own bravery I’m counting on, I’m in trouble. Though I know I can do all things, I also know that sometimes I won’t. Sometimes my weakness will get the best of me.
And here’s the amazing part. Not only does my God accept me in those times. Not only does he not reject me. He tells me to boast, to celebrate my weakness. Because that’s when He shows up most strong. That’s when He swoops in to make a way and save the day.
That’s when He shows Himself as the Hero of my life. So that I can step out again. So that I can be brave again.
I’m coming for that ropes course. I will do it again. But next time I’ll know this. I’m tethered. I’m securely tethered. And His grace is sufficient for chickens like me.
What about you?
Have you ever not been the brave you wanted to be?
Does it help to remember that you’re tethered in your brave moments, and your not-so-brave moments?
**If you’d like to read more about “Brave,” check out Sarah D.’s post at http://sarahdsstories.livejournal.com/15462.html.