Do we have to “feel” brave to “be” brave?

Three Vietnam war POW’s (prisoners of war), were being interviewed. They were asked this question, “How would you define courage?” Here’s what one of them said.

“Courage is fear that has been prayed”.

Isn’t that great?

I think sometimes followers of Christ think they must feel brave before they act brave.

Do you think Peter necessarily felt brave when he stepped out of the boat?

Did Abram feel brave before he left his homeland for places unknown?

Did Daniel feel brave before he defied the king’s orders and challenged the diet the king wanted him to eat?

Did Esther feel brave when she agreed to Mordecai’s plan?

And yet I can’t recall God recording that they “felt” anything before they acted. Instead, they are commended for their faith, not their bravery.

The truth is we are all human. Truly brave people almost always act from fear first. It’s what precedes true courage. I can’t think of any person I have read about or any person I know who’s done something courageous that didn’t feel fear first.

I don’t think I’ve done a lot of what a person would label as brave.

Except I can remember a time when I was so scared of something I was practically sick with fear. It’s when we were on vacation. We had the opportunity to take a boat tour with a few other couples and do some snorkeling.

Now you should know I can’t swim. I used to but when I was pretty young my friends and I were swimming in a lake near our house. We had swum across this lake many times. But this time the lake was a little shallow and the weeds were nearer the surface than usual. I got tangled up in the weeds and nearly drowned. I never swam after that.

So when we got to the part of the ocean where we would snorkel, I really never thought I would do it anyway. I figured my husband and everyone else would, but I had no intention of jumping into water over my head. But my husband encouraged me and the boat’s captain said that with my snorkels and a swimming vest, I couldn’t possibly drown. To this day, I don’t know how they convinced me. But all of a sudden I was equipped with all my gear and standing on the bow of the boat. I was shaking, I was so afraid.

But I jumped in.

It took a few seconds before I realized I was, in fact, not going to drown. Seeing the tropical fish and the coral was the most incredible experience I have ever had. I couldn’t hear a thing because my ears were covered with water so in total silence I swam around looking below me at all the beauty the ocean contained. Fish of all colors and shapes swam under me darting in and out of gorgeous coral. I stayed closed to my husband and we must have swum a couple of hours.

When I get scared now about something, I think of what I did that day. I think about how frightened I was and how I realized that fear is not such a bad thing. That sometimes:

fear is what cause faith to flourish.

Don’t be afraid of fear. Instead be afraid of letting fear stop you. Peter, Abram, Daniel, and Esther were people just like you and me. Their stories are great not because of how they ended but because of how they began.

I think sometimes we get too caught up with a story’s end and not enough with all the fears that had to be overcome.

So the next time you are afraid of something, don’t chastise yourself. Just keep moving and eventually the fear goes away as you find one little success after another.

Jump into your ocean just like I did. Your most incredible experience might well lie beneath the surface of your fear.

God bless and have a good day.