Journal

Planning for Courage

Karl Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s father, recalled that in May 1933–Karl Bonhoeffershortly after Hitler came to power–the Nazi Minister for Cultural Affairs spoke at Berlin University, pressuring the university to dismiss immediately all Jewish doctors.  Even the Dean tried to persuade the faculty to join the Nazi Party.  Dr. Bonhoeffer later regretted that neither he nor his colleagues “had felt sufficient courage to walk out.”

I can sympathize with Dr. Bonhoeffer.  Often things happen quickly, unexpectedly, and we’re not mentally or emotionally prepared to act, to make a decision on the spot.  We tend to want to consider all sides, cogitate on the ramifications of a thing.

But, like Dr. Bonhoeffer, I’ve sometimes felt ashamed that I did not take a stand for justice and compassion and the simple rightness of a thing more quickly.  Fear, doubt, uncertainty–all insidious and crippling–make us hesitate, sometimes even when we know the right thing to do.

The Lord is my lightI’m reminded of God’s instructions to Joshua (Josh. 1:7-9), before he crossed over to take the Land.

I have no doubt that Joshua went, knowing he would face battles and that those battles would be fierce.  God and Joshua both planned ahead for Joshua’s hard times, both planned ahead for Joshua’s mindset:  “Be thou strong and very courageous . . . be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed . . .”

That’s a tall order when you’re out the door to slay giants (real or imagined)–one Joshua was able to carry out only because he was well trained, perfectly armed, and had good instruction:  “This book of the law shall not depart from thy mouth . . . meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein . . .”

Why?  “For then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

But, how could Joshua be sure?  “Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Like Joshua, we must plan ahead for needed courage–prepare and arm ourselves with prayer and meditation in the Word of God so we understand the high standard, so we’re comfortable with the raised bar, so we act rather than sit through things that are wrong.   Then, like Joshua, we’ll know what to do, how to respond–so we “mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein . . .”Standing up for the faith

Standing up for what’s right in our society is not easy, especially when the powers of “political correctness” loom large in the world and even in the church, just as they did in Bonhoeffer’s day, just as they have for hundreds of years.  But, God has set a standard, a plumb line before us and given us the tools we need to attain and maintain that standard.

Have you ever been caught in a situation that you later wished you’d responded to differently, more courageously?

I’m praying for you today, and asking for your prayers,

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9 Comments

  • This summer I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. What a family that was!
    Often in groups, such as in a class, a question would be asked or an opinion sought, but I didn’t volunteer. I didn’t want everyone’s attention. It might have been deciding on an activity, and I had a definite preference, but I didn’t speak up and had to go along with what was decided. And I have to no to blame but myself!

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      I think we’ve all been in that boat, Terri! I surely have. I think some of that comes from being an introvert. I pray I’ll have the courage to speak out when it matters and when the Lord calls me to take a stand. I know He’ll supply all that’s needed if we’re fully surrendered to Him.
      I very much enjoyed the book you mentioned about Bonhoeffer. Yes, what a family!
      God’s blessings for you!

  • Hi Cathy –

    So many people, not just believers, are unprepared for the attacks on our freedoms. Part of this is due to the media NOT reporting about these issues.

    It’s critical to stay informed. I regret that I wasn’t more proactive 20 years or more ago. We’ve had so much freedom that it was easy to let some small things slide. Unfortunately, we’re now facing those minor things as grown-up giants.

    I’m doing all I can to raise awareness, as well as participate in the process. Of course, the major activity for me in this regard: prayer – that we will awaken to the danger, draw closer to the Lord, repent as a nation for shoving God out of our lives, and support those who are on the frontlines of the fight.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

  • Cathy Gohlke says:

    That’s a wonderful course of action–and prayer–Susan! I, too, regret not being more engaged and proactive in younger years.

    Did you hear about the over 5,000 Christians of many races and denominations and non-denominations that gathered in Washington on Columbus Day to repent and pray for our nation? It is a beginning and a good step in the right direction.
    God bless you in your endeavors to honor Him!
    In Christ,
    Cathy

  • C Durham says:

    I agree that the media hardly prints any good thing that Christians do. The media prints and shows every bad thing that terrorists are doing. And a lot of people are wondering why America and the world is in the bad state it is in. This country was founded on Godly principles and morals. When you take God out of the picture things are going to get worse. We as Christians can help shine God’s light to the world and pray daily for our government and foreign leaders and each other. May God bless all.

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