We, as humans, admire strength. We admire conviction. We admire a will that does not bend, does not break, does not give up.
Or at least we say we do.
The above picture is most commonly known as the "Tank Man" picture. For those of you (probably younger) who have not seen it, notice the man in the bottom left corner. He stood alone in front of the People's Liberation Army, which had just killed thousands of protesters. People often look to this picture as one of courage on display. One man against an army.
We watch movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and Star Wars. Indiana Jones and Rocky and even The Goonies are cultural icons for my generation. We play video games like Skyrim and Warcraft and even Mario Brothers and why?
We like, no, we crave, courage. We want stories about it, we want our lives to be filled with it and we want to be known for it. Whenever we hear stories about courageous people saving someone or keeping it together under pressure or putting themselves at risk for something or someone we eat it up like so many children gulping candy and sweets.
So why is it so hard to have something we so desperately crave?
Because of this: Courage. Is. Difficult.
Courage difficult because it is the formation point of what we do. Before we go out of our way to help someone we must have the courage to go. If you are at a gas station and a crazy looking guy comes up and asks you for some gas, it takes courage to have the virtue of generosity. If you see someone being bullied, it takes courage to have the virtue of justice to stand up and stop it. It takes courage to look at your coach and say that no, you will not be at a sporting event that conflicts with serving God. I could keep going on, but I think the point has been made. As the picture above states, courage is the form that other virtues take when tested. It is essential.
But it is so much easier to be distracted. To pretend we didn't see that homeless man with the sign. To turn on the TV and ignore the lost souls outside looking for The Answer. To do the easy thing and give in to the demands of the person standing in front of you than to God's desire for your life. To save for or spend on ourselves instead of being generous with the enormous blessings God has given us.
We have to decide what we are going to be. Who we are going to be. Whose we are going to be.
You have the potential to do enormous, great things. To stand at the precipice of your life and say you have no regrets. To change the world around you and make big things different in order to be more like what God wants.
You also have the potential to do small, important things that nobody notices. To stand at the edge or your lifetime and say you have no regrets. To keep things running so that those around can see Christ in the simple life you live and come to Him.
Both take courage. To stand up and be different from the world, it takes courage. It requires strength and an unbending will to follow God. It requires you to step out and leap off the ledge that has been put in front of you. It requires you to deny the distractions and be merciless to the things which pull you back.
But you can do it. I know you can. God knows you can.
In fact, He says He'll help you do it.
So do it.
No excuses, no rationalizing out of it.
Whether big or small, fast or slow, breathtaking or simple.