Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days of Courage: The Courage Of Those Who Went Before Us

I'm not at all sure why, but since I can remember I've had a deep appreciation for the people of earlier times on whose shoulders we stand.  My imagination has been captured by the brave folks in all walks of life who lived through some extraordinary times, sacrificially willing to suffer one kind of hardship or another for those who would follow them.

The common people of the middle ages experienced a world of great corruption and religious superstition.  With little hope of change in their own lifetimes, and almost always illiterate, great masses of human beings sang and memorized the hymns of the church, rife with scripture, keeping the truth and the true church alive with the power of a song.

Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician during the 19th century who noticed mortality rates going down on hospital wards when doctor's washed their hands.  Of course, there was no understanding of germ theory at that time.  The medical establishment was offended by Semmelweis' suggestion that they wash their hands, and the good doctor was ridiculed and ultimately rejected for his hygiene theories.  He was committed to an asylum and died, only later to be lauded for his progressive ideas when Louis Pasteur confirmed through microbiology what Semmelweis could only have imagined. He paid a price for the sake of others to come after him.

There are so many heroes in history, and we owe so much to all of them.  The soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy.  The runners on the underground railroad.  Lewis and Clark and the other explorers of history who knew not where they would land, and had no cell phones, satellites or GPS systems along the way.  Though some did seek their own glory, many more thought of the benefit to their descendants.  They gave their lives away for the lives of those to come.

As I write this, I think too of the people very close to home who built the step we now stand on.  Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents (and so on) gave us a shot at life.  None of them were perfect, but most of them thought ahead to us as they laid down their own wants and needs so we would have a decent life.

It's just too easy to forget that we aren't here on our own steam.  God set many a wheel in motion to bring us to this day, and He knew how each person's contribution would impact generations a thousand years later.  It's a heady thing to think about.

I wanted to use this 2nd to the last blog in the 31 Day challenge to encourage all of us to remember where we came from, and to remember with gratitude the courage of our ancestors.

There's a mountain of courage that lies behind us, billions of footsteps to follow, faith of ages and ages to which we owe a great debt.

Our duty now is to be the brave ones for those coming behind us.  This is an enormous challenge. Especially for a chicken like me.

These are selfish times, but also times of great courage.  In fact, the darker the world, the brighter the light of those determined to bravely consider NOT THEMSELVES, but the generations to come. This was always a given in the history of the world.  Now, in our generation, we must be consciously determined to swim against the current.

Jesus is of course the ultimate example of a courageous life lived and sacrificed for the sake of those to come.  And in his case, for the sake of those who walked by faith before that first Christmas.  His shoulders are stood upon by the whole world, past...present...and future.

Only He can handle that.

But He gives us this one life to give away.

As He did for those who came before us.

May we bless their courage as long as we have breath. And pay the debt forward with all our strength.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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