Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Ruins of Old Courage

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
A final word:  Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT)
I just finished reading a novel entitled “Gilead” and was quite moved by what an old man wrote to his six year old son.  The old man is a preacher coming to the end of his days.  He has lived his whole life in Gilead, preaching in the church his father ministered to before him.  His was a simple life, a simple pulpit and filled with midwest simple and honest ways. 

A widower with no children, the old preacher married a second time at sixty-eight.  They had a child shortly after, and the entire novel tells the story in paragraphs the old man writes each night about his life, friends, family and ministry, so that when he is gone the boy will know him.

At the risk of spoiling, here is one of his last paragraphs to his son:

Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it.  I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave – that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.  And therefore, this courage allows us as the old men said, to make ourselves useful.  It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing.  But that is the pulpit speaking.  What have I to leave you but the ruins of old courage, and the lore of old gallantry and hope?  Well, as I have said, it is all an ember now, and the good Lord will surely someday breathe it into flame again.[2]

The ruins of old courage are only an image the world sees, of a life lived faithfully and simply.  But underneath the ruins are glowing embers of faith, reborn in the lives of others as the Spirit fans into flames with holy breath all that God has planned.

Paul told Timothy to be courageous – strong in the Lord.  The reasoning then is the same now, as it was for the old preacher:  faith is never wasted; faithfulness will become fruit in somebody’s life.

For You Today

Have you got grand dreams for your life?  Good!

Just don’t let them become confused with God’s grand plans for His Kingdom.  He is still the Master Gardener, and the vineyard is still His.

You can be a faithful servant today if you remember you have the opportunity to be courageous and strong in the Lord because somebody you watched made your pathway clear and your resolve possible.

Stake your claim in the Kingdom of God on the ruins of that old courage!

[1] Title image: Francisco Goya [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[2] Marilynne Robinson, Gilead, (NY, Picador, 2004), p.246

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this, Russell. "Prevenient Courage" ... aren't they powerful words (and truth!)? Now to live into that combination of prevenient grace and courage!