“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
At the beginning of any school year, its always encouraged to set time aside to self evaluate, and set some goals that you would like to accomplish for this upcoming year. I remember one year right before I started school, I decided it was time for me to take my life with Christ seriously. I knew that if wanted to pursue this new life, I had to make certain sacrifices. So I sat with my father of confession and I explained to him my new desire for a life with Christ. I also explained to him my fears. My fears of losing all my friends if I started to change, my fears that I wasn’t sure if this life is something I can handle long term, and lastly if God even wanted this. At the time these fears sounded very rational and so real. My father of confession calmed me down and explained to me that a life with Christ does come with tribulation but it is also the sweetest life. Then he said something that I will never forget. He told me to be courageous with God. To this day, whenever I’m doubtful about anything, I remember that line. So what does being courageous with God exactly mean? The first thing that comes to mind is the story of the sinful woman. I believe to fully understand the story, we need to really understand the context and the environment at the time. In Luke 7:36, it says that “one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.” So from the beginning, it is clear to see that this was an exclusive thing. This wasn’t the norm nor was it open for anyone to come. Then in the middle of their meal, it says “a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” Luke 7:37-38. If you really try to imagine this scene, it’s really unusual and almost disturbing. Imagine you invite abouna over your house. You’re all sitting and having a meal and making small talk. Then all of a sudden, this lady comes in and she starts hysterically crying at abouna’s feet. As much as we all love and admire this story, I don’t think we give much thought to how unusual this was. I always wonder how this woman grew up enough courage to even do something like this. I imagine when she asked her friends for advice, I’m sure no one was supportive or encouraging. At the time, woman empowerment and bravery wasn’t a popular topic. Actually what she did, put her own life in danger. I’m sure she knew all of this and yet she didn’t think any of those reasons were good enough for her not to go. As expected, the people sitting in the house weren’t welcoming this woman with open arms. They even started criticizing Christ for allowing this behavior to happen. Very quickly, our Sweet Savior informs them saying, “… her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47.
We can all learn so much from this woman. The first lesson being, when you do something crazy for God, He will never leave you. I think many of us desire to live a life with God but the devil has planned so many doubts and fears in our head. To be courageous with God means to quiet down those fears and doubts and go seek Christ just like the sinful woman. This woman didn’t follow the norm. She actually had to go against everything she believed in order to seek Christ. Imagine if we were this courageous and dedicated to our life with Christ? Imagine how much more God would use us if we just allowed Him to?
Now you might wonder how we can start this new & beautiful life with God. Abouna Daoud Lamei gives us some guidelines that we can follow.
- Start off strong. When you look at many people in the Bible, when they started their life with God, they started it very strong. (Zacchaeus donating half of all his belongings to the poor, St. Peter when he left everything to follow Jesus Christ)
- Keep your goal very clear and defined. Why are you following Christ? Am I doing this for myself or because people around me are pushing me?
- Recognize that no matter who you are, there will always be room for growth. You are never done growing with Christ.
- Be honest with yourself and stop hiding from things God has been pushing you to do. There is something that God has been pushing you to do but you have been avoiding.
- Feel a sense of urgency. Time is passing and there is no guarantee that tomorrow will come.
- Last but definitely not least, quiet time is so important. Sit with God and your Bible and soak it up. The more you read about God, the more you will know what He wants from you.
Our God’s grace and mercy, every day is a new chance to start this new life. The decision is yours. It might not be an easy journey but God is always holding your hand and guiding you. It might not be an easy journey but all things are possible through God.