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Back in July, me and hubby went to Koorong to look for The Picture Bible for Children. Hubby told me that his first encounter with the stories in the Bible was from this book when he was a kid. Feeling nostalgic, he insisted to search for the book since he lost his original one. As he was looking for that book in Children section, I roamed around Women and Relationship shelves, hoping to find a good book for myself so I could get it for 20 percent off, too. Instead, I chose to buy a devotional. Another devotional. Andrew raised his eyebrow when I handed that book for him to pay, knowing that I’ve got two other books on my bedside table, but he didn’t say anything. Once in the car, he asked me, “you need another devotional?”. I paused for a bit, then I said to him, ‘no, but the book looks pretty’. I rest my case.

As it turned out, God used this pretty book to bash me.

Packed with different themes each week, God led me to get to know Him, and myself, through this book. And many times, as I read and ponder on His Word, I felt like I’ve been hit between the eyes.

A month ago, the theme was about ‘Courage’. This spoke quite loudly to me, since I am generally quite apprehensive. I get anxious over little things. I am careful in everything, maybe way too careful, so I can avoid mistakes or bear any failures. And being a perfectionist, I tend to want to get things done my way. And when they didn’t, I would see that as an offense, and I wouldn’t be too nice about it. A control-freak, in short. As I went through each page, day after day, I came to one brutal conclusion; damn, I really am a coward. It is one thing to strive for perfection by covering all loop holes and planning everything to a T, but it is another thing to be so afraid to start anything because you won’t forgive yourself if you don’t do it perfectly.

My parents know that quite well about me, and have been encouraging, nudging, and badgering me when it comes to my reluctance to ‘come out of my shell’ and embrace new things.  And I know how much deeper my Father, my Creator knows my heart and my character. But it didn’t really stop me from asking, “why does God seem to challenge my weaknesses? Why does He always strike my soft spots?”. D’uh, right? Yet, I found it hard to accept why God had to ‘complicate’ things before I could get to what He’s got in store for me.

The verse from the second day of the week was taken from 2 Timothy 1:7,

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”

As I pondered on this, Holy Spirit kept asking me to look at the word “give” in this verse. I asked Him to elaborate, and He reminded me of the movie Evan Almighty. Nearing the end of the movie, Evan’s wife was so troubled that no one believed in Evan and his mission to save the world. God (Morgan Freeman) approached her, and said this line,

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does He give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?

I know this was not (the real) God’s Word, but man, such wisdom!

Holy Spirit continued to guide me in understanding this verse. If we truly believe that the Word of God is the truth and alive, that He is our DNA, then it’ll make more sense that God will work from within us first before He changes our surroundings. When He gives courage to us, He will be working inside-out, not outside-in. He won’t necessarily create peaceful, calm, smooth situation for us to feel peace, because what’s the point in giving us courage if we have nothing to use it against? When we claim and receive courage from God, though our surroundings may not look too promising, we can activate, exercise our faith through the courage that He has given us.

Pam Brewer, the writer for this topic, explained that ‘(God) will never direct you to compromise your faith or your integrity in order to accomplish His will… God is always at work in and around us, allowing our needs to collide with others, so that He can fulfill His plans in both. When we are faced with tests, and we are confident that God is with us, we can act with courage that the sacrifice will be worth the blessings for everyone touched by it.”

From the challenges that I’ve been allowed to go through, I learned that to be courageous is not always about being bold and brave, or ticking the boxes and getting things done. Sometimes courage is needed when God asked me to be vulnerable, to let things go, and give up myself (my plans, my thoughts, my pride) though it hurts. Or to open up and write about it, though it means highlighting my weaknesses. One obvious thing I know He’s teaching me is to be compassionate. To exercise love and mercy, and to be persistent about it, especially when I don’t feel like it. His Word didn’t say, “God (give) spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline when you feel like doing it“. Nope. It is an encouragement that despite my situation, God’s gift is abundant for me to do His work.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 4:19]

His grace is enough. Through all the ups and downs, I know He will sustain me. Though many times I questioned how long should I endure the uncertainty and the unknown, I can always look back and declare that all the things that have been happening to me..they were all perfect and wonderful, and there’s no way I could’ve done all that myself. Deep down I believe that my loving Father is standing at the end of the tunnel, smiling widely at me and says, “I told you so! I told you everything is going to be okay!”. I just have to believe, and take the step!

God knows I need to exercise my courage. He knows I’m weak and defenceless, so like a baby needing some vaccinations, He gave me some ‘weak virus shots’, right where they’re needed to stimulate my faith and thus activate my ‘antibody’. It will be uncomfortable for me at first, I might be in pain for a while, but as I continue to hold on to Him, to satisfy myself with His presence, He will make me stronger. And when I am faced with some more challenges in the future, I will be ready. Eventually.

I’m not there, yet. But I will be.

“..for truly I say to you; if you have faith even as little as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain ‘move here to there’, and it will move;..” [Matthew 17:20]

I had trouble understanding this verse for a long time. But finally it dawned on me. The keyword is not in ‘as little as a mustard seed’, but Jesus said, ‘if you have faith’! I’m not sure how we can measure our own faith, let alone compare it to something as small as a seed. But once we commit ourselves to believe in His Word, taking the steps amidst the impossibles and give no room for doubts; that’s when we know that we have faith! and God can work through that faith, no matter how small. Like trickles of water among a pile of rocks; it doesn’t matter how small the size of the gap is, the water will find it and flow through it. Likewise, the size of our faith, or should I say, our effort is not the main component here. It is God who can make the difference. It is God through us that can move those mountains!

Courage. Alongside obedience, it is one of the ingredients of faith. This revelation is a tremendous burden off my shoulders; that when God asked me to be courageous, He didn’t intend to just let go of my hand and let me walk through the wilderness by myself. Like the famous quote that said, “If He lead me to it, He’ll lead me through it”, He is with me every step of the way. Even if I cowardly decide to take my time and delay things and ignore His nudge, like I did many times before, but hey, He will still be here. Right here with me. I just pray that every time I feel afraid and insecure and unsure, I will always remember that it is not my effort, it is not about me. Everything that happens are all working together, no matter how wrong it may seem at that moment, for His glory. To serve His perfect plan. I pray that as He continues to mold (and bash and crack and remold) me, His Word and His love will always feed me with strength and encouragements to keep moving forward, no matter how mentally/spiritually/physically strenuous it may be. A small girl like me can only do so much, but my GOD can do ALL THINGS!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13]

enough said 🙂

Thank You, Lord!!