I asked God for courage the other day.
It seemed like a noble thing to ask for. Who wouldn’t want to stand strong in the face of a verbal attack that blows wind through your hair? Who doesn’t want to feel safe when he sees a funnel cloud headed his way? And who doesn’t wish they could speak clearly when fear takes all the moisture out of his mouth?
Of course, these are worst case scenarios.
But the truth is these things could happen to us at some point in our lives.
I said something dumb to a girl one time long ago that cause her to verbally beat me and leave me on the roadside to die.
As a kid, I stood behind as my Dad watched an approaching tornado through the open front door of our house.
My early efforts at public speaking left my mouth so parched I could empty the water fountain in the hall.
When I asked God for courage, I knew He’d give it to me. After all, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells me that God didn’t give me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-control. Since I’m a man, being brave appeals to me.
And for those of us who want to appear to have our act together, courage is quite attractive.
The problem is I want courage without the tests life gives to prove it.
So when I asked God for courage, I did it like a kid sitting in Santa’s lap. This is what I want. I don’t want to do anything to get it. But if I’m really good, will I get it? Will the scales between my good and bad weigh in my favor?
God will give me courage. After all, He promised. And essentially, I don’t have to do anything to earn it because I can’t do anything to earn anything God gives me. So it’s really good that He is generous.
That also means He holds all the cards.
If God wants to test me to develop my courage, who am I to tell Him He can’t do that? Oh sure, I can whine and tell Him how unfair it is. He probably just laughs when I tell Him that. It’s easy to forget that He knows everything and that while I think I know it all, I don’t really know that much.
I do know that to experience courage, it has to be tested to be revealed.
The first day back at work this week I had finished all my deliveries and was headed back to home base. The day had gone pretty well up until then.
Then I heard what sounded like a small car crunching under my front bumper.
Fortunately, it wasn’t that.
I did pull over to check for bodies though.
What I found was that my left outside tire had blown half its tread onto the highway.
Now I had to drive it back like that – for about seventy miles.
I passed a variety of cops along the way. There were county officers and state patrollers. A thousand cars and tractor trailers passed me as I limped along at 40 mph. Changing lanes was a challenge. Keeping the truck from wobbling out of control was as constant a battle as breathing when you’ve walked up on a dead skunk.
But I made it back.
And I found the courage I asked God for.
Be careful what you ask God for. He just might grant it.
He will also grant what you need to pass through the flames on the way there.