Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Faith Means Courage
Typically the question comes up: "How do I learn to surrender when all my life I have been taught that I have to fight at all costs to survive (or succeed)?".
This was exactly how I felt when I was trying to learn to live by these new principles. I grew up with a lot of ideas about fierce self-reliance like "You have to fight for your right", "Never surrender", "never give up", "never say die", "never say never again", "keep your mouth shut", and "Never apologize it's a sign of weakness". I was taught this is what it means to be a man.
I thought about the reading in the AA Big Book on fear in which it says that all men of faith have courage.
"We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear."
I thought about how it also states that we "never apologize to anyone for depending on our creator". I wondered if this was a place where the writer got sidetracked by the idea of courage to talk about faith rather than courage to live by faith. It seems to me that the context before and after is all about living by faith. Perhaps he meant to say something like:
"We never fear the way of depending upon our creator. We must set aside our old idea that spirituality is the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never let doubt deter us from depending upon God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear."
I don't mean to suggest that the Big Book needs to be re-written. I'm just trying to distill out what the book says to me about faith as the way of strength.
It has been my experience that it takes a lot of strength, initiative, and will power to set aside self reliance and depend upon God. In fact it sometimes seems like a real fight. What happened to me is that initially I had to surrender the fight to have things my way. But then, I had to learn to fight my will and the ways of the world to do God's will. It really didn't feel like a surrender for long before it started to feel like a new fight.
But now I am no longer fighting alone for a futile cause. Now I am fighting the good fight with a Leader and a team as my strength. When I completely give myself to Him, pray for him to remove my fear, follow his word, work with others, join in communion with the church, the saints and the angels, I am galvanized and achieve that which I have never been able to accomplish on my own.
Thanks be to God!
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.