Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Thursday, October 2, 2014

31 Days of Courage: The Courage to Stay Off the Defensive

As my 16 year old son would put it: “That skunk did us wrong.”

At four A.M. yesterday morning I was roused from my bed, not by a sound but by a stink.  Some black and white thing out there in the yard got scared.  Most likely it was spooked by that coy dog that’s been milling about lately, eyeballing Cosette and Domino.

He might have learned the hard way what happens when you mess with that particular brand of “all God’s creatures.” 

For me, it was a not-so-subtle reminder of the negative side of this 31 day topic.  Our reaction to fear will impact the atmosphere of our lives.  In particular, I want to consider the defensive response to insecurity (an insidious and well documented kind of fear), and what courage might look like as an alternative.

How do you react when your back’s against the wall?

I was recently misunderstood over the way I handled a scheduling problem at my job.  Oh friends, how immediately I jumped to my own defense, afraid perhaps that someone might think me incompetent, or even, God forbid, less than intelligent.  Listening to my tone as I defended myself and feeling the indignation rise within was like a blast of skunk spray, leaving everyone in the vicinity, including me, ESPECIALLY ME, with that lingering yuck for a while.  There’s no tomato juice bath for that kind of mess.  Repentance is the only cure.

By the way, and just for fun, have you ever heard this great expression:

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

OK, back to the point.

Contrast that with Smitty, my main squeeze.  He made a mistake at work, which I can assure you is rare!  (He’s one humble smarty-pants…but I digress).  And no doubt with some trepidation, he went to his supervisor and owned the thing.  I think she was probably dumbfounded for a minute, since this is not the way human beings typically operate (especially those with Y chromosomes).  And I believe from what I heard about her reaction that Stephen left the good fragrance of everyday courage in her office.

“For we are a sweet fragrance to God in The Messiah among those who have life and among those who perish.”      2 Cor. 2:15

That’s what courage is.  It’s a lofty and lovely fragrance, bringing beauty to the person stretched out to be a little brave, and to all within its perimeter.  The aroma of simple acts of daily courage can change the place you work, you live, you worship, you learn, you play.  How priceless is it that you can be a bouquet wherever you go?

For every person, the thing that will trigger insecurity and the defensive posture that follows is different.  What if today, when your motives are wrongly judged, or your pride is injured, instead of putting up your tail you followed the way of The Master?

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”  1 Peter 2:23

What if today instead of the reek of fear, we left the perfume of grace?

I can tap the keys, but can I walk the walk?  Help me Jesus.  I don’t want to stink up the room.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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