When Bravery Beckons



Photo: Matt Marshall (www.mattmarshall.photos)

I have always believed I have an adventurous spirit. But when adventure stared me in the face last summer, I realized that underneath all of my fancy talk, I was a coward. I realized that saying I liked adventure meant that I liked the thought of facing adventure surrounded by those I loved.

When I first began planning my adventure to the West, I had no idea what I was doing (for the most part). For several days, I walked around in a daze, sheer terror gripping me. You know how that feels: the pounding heart, the sweaty hands, the sweeping dread.

What was I thinking? I could not do this.

I was not daring like my older sister, Joanna, who traveled alone to the Philippines five or six times and currently lives there. She endures things like lice and heat while subsisting on rice and fish and such. Still, she soldiers on, teaching music and kids while witnessing to one and all.

I was not brave like my younger sister, Monica, who began college in her late twenties, deciding to branch out and do what no Marshall girl had done before–attend a regular college on a college campus. I followed her to that campus a year later. Although I knew God had led me to Pensacola Christian College, Monica had conveniently blazed the trail for me.

The only other time I lived away from family was when I worked at a Christian school in Maryland for a year. I packed my Subaru Outback until it could hold no more and made my first move ever. But I only lived three hours from home, and occasionally, I would still drive back to the cabin to see Dad and Mom. From where I worked, the drive over the perilous mountains lasted only two and a half hours, and I would leave promptly at 5:00 p.m. and spend a day with my parents and my sister, Joanna, who lived at home at the time. Then I would hustle back to my loneliness on Saturday.

Being that close to home was comfortable. I was not far from those who loved me and knew me and accepted me, warts and all . . . or at least pretended that they did. And I was secure in the knowledge that should anything serious happen either to me or them, they were not far away.

Yet now God was calling me to try something new. I was not even moving to another country like my spunky sister Joanna or my other spunky missionary sister, Becky. I was simply moving approximately seventeen hours away. Only one time zone difference separated me from family. Only two days of travel.

Why is it that when bravery beckons, I pretend I do not hear its voice?

A door opens and I pause, pensive and questioning. A new opportunity arises, and I start to calculate how, when, where, and why. Instead of grasping the Father’s hand in mine and boldly moving forward, I try to hide behind Him, like a shy child does when meeting strangers . . . forgetting that He is with me, having already walked the path ahead and cleared the way.

Some people thrive on challenges. An obstacle charges at them in the middle of the path, and they sweep their sword from its sheath and lunge at the invader. Others prefer hiding in the trees and never stepping onto the path. Often I am more like the second person  than the first, but I am slowly learning.

When bravery beckons, I am learning to lean in, listen, and follow.


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