I heard a song by JJ Heller called “Braver Still.” This is also one of my favorite artists of all time. She has a way with words. Here it is, if you’d like to listen:
As you can probably gather by now, music has a way of moving my heart that no other thing quite does. Something about deep moving tones and the thoughts of someone’s heart singing to God…it is just beautiful.
I used to loathe singing. I mean it truly terrified me and I flat out couldn’t make noise. The depth of personal that singing is, goes insanely deep for me. Maybe I’m weird in that, but I feel like I’m baring my naked soul. When I go to sing in front of other people, It is a true act of bravery for me. I have absolutely no desire to sing in front of people, unless it’s for the purpose of singing a song that has deeply touched my soul and I want to make sure that it’s a song that they get to hear. I get through it by dedicating it completely to God, singing it for Him and remembering that it doesn’t have to be perfect for God to appreciate it. These same principals have gotten me through the last 7 years of trial. Dedicate my effort to God, live this life for Him, and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect for Him to appreciate it. I try for perfection, but I undoubtedly fall terribly short in both performances.
If I could talk to the young woman that I was 7 years ago, I would tell her so much. I would wipe her tears, and I would tell her that God would be so close in the times to come, that she would be able to feel Him, hear His whisper, and He would lead her to higher plains of faith. I would promise her that He would lead her through the darkest of moments to come. I also know that she wouldn’t be able to understand that, even if she knew I was her. You see, when you are in the deepest gallows of suffering and pain, it’s really difficult to keep morale up. There will be times when you run out of gas, you grieve the future you thought you would have, you feel anger at your lack of ability to change what has already been done, and you sometimes lose hope of ever feeling like a former shadow of yourself again. The ugly truth of it is that these moments happen like a sneak attack. You think you are fighting and all of a sudden…you just collapse. There is nothing left within you and you are forced to stop and make a decision. How do I go on?
This fight is universal. I’ve listened to my best of friends pour out their hearts about their own personal fights. I have heard the most dreaded struggles be shared. The loss of a baby, a marriage in shambles, the murder of a loved one, financial ruin, the death of a spouse, physical devastation, substance abuse, mental illness…the nittiest of the gritty. Almost every single one, has experienced the dreaded moment of decision. The moment you decide not to give up living, even when it doesn’t feel like the life you want. Usually this decision is made over and over and over throughout a long period of time. It’s our time wandering in the desert like the Egyptians. They missed what they no longer had, they were exhausted from the seemingly endless wandering, and they were desperate to reach the promised land.
One of my best friend’s died of cancer over a year ago. Her husband told me that he feels like it’s his time wandering in the desert. Trying to figure out how to live without his other half is hard and he feels like he is lost in a desert. I believe that everyone will have their time to wander in the desert. I firmly believe this is when we discover whether we really truly in the depths of our soul…are willing to put all of our eggs in the faith basket. Do I believe that God will follow through on His promise to get me through the very worst? Will He work this together for my good like He promises?
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Will He never leave me alone, though I feel like I am at times?
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Will He ever make this okay?
1st Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at theappearing of Jesus Christ
This is where God is going to make you braver. Little by little, God will help you inch forward through this time. Some day you will shuffle forward, then some time long after…you will take steps, and then you will run. I’m not talking a physical run. I’m talking about a spiritual run…and then you will fly
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
If you choose to start inching forward in the dark, when all you want to do is quit, God is going to help you reach new faith plateaus. He will lead you places you can’t imagine. There will be pillars of fire, parting of the sea’s and manna from heaven. He may not take you out of the desert, but He will give you everything necessary to endure it and bring you out stronger. He will settle your heart in the worst of circumstances, and you will have a knowledge of His presence. You will no longer question His existence. He will draw you so close.
Through this time, we undergo a period of transformation. This is the time where we lay down what we knew ourselves to be before the trial. We let go of the future we thought we would have, and we make the decision to have faith that God still has good things in store for us. We stop hoping to go back to Egypt, and we have faith this journey will lead us to the promised land. When we stake our faith in deep, we trust that God is good even in the face of devastation. Transformation takes place in our heart. When we feel this change, we understand that we are different now, and that is okay. God is teaching us things about ourselves that we otherwise never would have known.
I am not the same girl I was 7 years ago. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even the longest nights and hardest days, have been worth it. I have a different confidence in God. I have seen Him make good on His promises. Even more astounding, is that He saw fit to prove Himself to little nothing me. That is a kind of fantastic that I fail to be able to put into words. He wants to prove Himself to every one of us, but we have to put all of our eggs in that faith basket first.
I read about an attack in Egypt on Coptic Christians. They were told to denounce their faith and commit to Islam, or they were shot in the head or their throats slit.
Is our faith ready for this? It needs to be.
Every trial has the potential to kill our faith, if we don’t remake the commitment to keep going even when it’s the darkest, and hardest. If our faith doesn’t hold up in the trial of it…we never really had it in the first place. Choosing to believe in God when things are great, takes very little faith…none actually. It’s choosing to believe that God is real during the worst…that is what takes great faith. That is brave.
Where you lack…God will make you braver.
Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
I’m glad that through the years of pushing myself to sing in spite of my fear, it’s gotten easier. I still have terrible anxiety when I go to sing, but I realize it hasn’t killed me yet. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I kinda hate that saying but it’s true. My perspective changed at one point. I dislocated my jaw during the worst of the Fluoroquinolone damage time period. I had to have it put back into socket in an ER in Tuscan, Arizona. I was on a liquid diet for almost 9 weeks. I wasn’t supposed to talk for that long either. There was so much bleeding and swelling in the joint from the dislocation, my mouth was frozen partially open. The ligaments holding the meniscal discs had ruptured. I couldn’t sing for months and months. I sang for the first time, almost a year later. Suddenly realizing the ability could be taken in an instant, changed my appreciation for being able to sing at all. A saying comes to mind in all of this. Use it or lose it.
Use faith or lose it. Let’s allow God to make us braver. Every battle we fight through, is proof to someone else that it can be done. Someone else out there fighting needs to see you be brave, so they can be braver.
We ain’t no chickens.