Today is the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. It is considered our first modern war; it was by far America’s most costly. The thing that always amazes me, so eloquently and poignantly illustrated in Ken Burn’s “Civil War”, is the courage under fire of the men facing sure carnage.
What is courage? Some believe it is the absence of fear. Not so, not even close. One of the bravest men I have ever known is my own son Eddie. He was always courageous under fire and always had to deal with fear.
Courage is the ability to overcome our fears and face the difficulty before us. Many were such men and women who gave their lives not only during the Civil War, but also in all our wars.
I do not expect our political leaders to display that type of courage; that is a rare gift men receive from God. The idiomatic definition of courage is having “the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.”
I am extremely disappointed in the Republican leadership in Congress. Perhaps they were acting on their beliefs in spite of my type of criticism. Very well, but those are not their stated beliefs. I simply believe them to be moral cowards, that may be harsh but my goal is to bring political and moral clarity into the fog of political correctness. I do not mean to be harsh; I know I can be. I am trying to be more compassionate, but our nation’s survival is at stake.
God does not reward moral courage; quite the opposite. Reacquaint yourself with the story of the spies sent to Canaan:
“Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.’ Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “’he land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” (Numbers 13:26-33)
I praise God that we have courageous Caleb’s such as Alan West serving in Congress, but like the ten spies who frightened the congregation over the protests of Joshua and Caleb, they are just small voices among the many. The ten spies saw the Amalekites and cried out, “For they are stronger than we are.” They looked to their happenstances but Joshua and Caleb looked to Heaven:
“But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, “a land which flows with milk and honey.” Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.’” (Numbers 14:6-9)
Now of course after such a rousing pep talk the congregation yelled to Moses, lead the way! No, they set their minds to stone Joshua and Caleb (v10). And that is when God showed up:
“Then the LORD said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.’” (Numbers 14:11-12)
Finish reading Numbers 14, in fact read chapters 13 & 14. Moses intercedes for his people and God pardons them but still pronounces a judgment on them. This evil generation would not inherit the Promised Land, and He struck the ten men who “brought the evil report” with a plague. Then of course the people were now ready to move.
“Oh okay Lord, we’ve learned our lesson so here we go.” And so they go up against the Amalekites and Canaanites, without God’s blessing, His leader, and His covenant, and promptly get routed. Sound familiar?
The late and great Reggie White once said that “God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.” Jesus promised us:
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
The Greek for “yoke” is a seamstress term that means “tailor-made”; Jesus is telling us that what He is asking us to do is perfectly suited for our calling.
The fight before us is daunting; those in power appear stronger than we are but we have a Mighty King that we serve. Heed again my son’s words from a letter he wrote me the day before he wrote “Hope Rides Alone”:
In fact, at this point in my life, I think I’ve gotten closer to God than ever before. I can walk side by side with the demons, I can feel them…I can literally, physically feel them around me, but they are easily shooed away the very second I bow my head and call on the Person far more powerful than they are. Although I must live with them, and walk with them, they do not overtake me.
My daughter Becky’s life verse is:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
That life verse became oh so real in my sweet baby’s life when she lost her best friend and big brother. She will testify to how Jesus carried her through when fear and trembling overwhelmed her.
Mark Twain once wrote: “It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”
That was never more true than today. Right now, as you read this, physically AND morally courageous men and women are facing radical Islam far from home to keep it from our shores. And at the same time, moral cowardice abounds in the halls of Congress and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr. Twain, it is more than curious…it is truly sad.
Ah but Bro Dave, what can we do?
For they are stronger than we are…
Perhaps we can believe like Joshua and Caleb that if the Lord delights in us then He will deliver us.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers
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