Courage is a spiritual thing. That’s because courage and faith are linked for the Christian.
It takes no courage to make the choice where an outcome is clearly seen and the outcome is favorable. If you have the choice to go down Path A and Path B, and Path A looks like it was transported out of a Disney movie, complete with rainbows, butterflies, and mice who sing songs to you, and Path B looks like it came out of a horror movie, it doesn’t take a lot of courage to go down Path A. Your senses tell you that it will be easier and more enjoyable, so you make that decision.
Courage is about uncertainty; it’s about doubt; it’s about fear; and ultimately it’s about choosing Path B even though you know it’s going to be more difficult. That’s why courage is a spiritual matter – you are exercising faith in your decision-making because you believe in something that’s not visible to your naked eyes.
When we think of courage, though, we typically think about leaving. Right now, especially in the Christian world, courage is about leaving a career for another one, leaving a way of life for another one, leaving something you find yourself stuck in for what might be. Courage is about chasing the elusive dream because, so the line of thinking goes, that dream has been put inside you by God.
But what if courage is not always about leaving? What if courage means staying?
This is the flipside of the coin; the one that’s less exciting. It’s also the one that fits with the biblical exhortation you see over and over again in the New Testament to faithfulness. The Bible says stay. The Bible says persevere. The Bible says remain. The Bible says hold on.
True enough, it also says “leave.” God told Abraham to leave the familiar; Jesus told us as His disciples to venture out; the rich young ruler was told to abandon.
So you can’t really say that the courageous choice of faith is either one without exception. What you can say, though, is that you can’t determine what the choice of faith is based on the excitement of one choice over another.
To the dad who is tired of coming home to needy children, the Bible says stay.
To the wife who is fed up with her unromantic husband, the Bible says stay.
To the church member who only consumes what the church has to offer and is therefore wanting to move across town, the Bible says stay.
Don’t be quick to leave; don’t be so fast to confuse courage with excitement; don’t bow before the idol of excitement at the expense of faithfulness.
Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is to stay right where you are.
Michael Kelley is the Director of Discipleship at Lifeway, and author of Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life