The Courageous Choice to Stay

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 Disneyworld, 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. No courage needed. And no faith either, for that matter. And it’s in that same scenario that we see the link between the two.

Courage, and faith, are about a degree of uncertainty; of doubt; of fear. Neither courage or faith operate in a vacuum outside of these realities. Instead, both are measured not by what we say, or what we even claim to believe, but rather by what we do. In the scenario, we know we have faith, and we know we are exercising courage, when we feel all the uncertainty, doubt, and fear and ultimately choose Path B anyway. Oh yes – courage is a spiritual matter, for courage is what you screw on in order to exercise faith in your decision-making because you believe in something that’s not visible to your naked eyes.

Here’s the thing though. When we think about courage, we think about stepping into the unknown. And taking risks. And abandoning all else. It’s true in the secular world, as we laud those who quit their jobs and mortgage their lives to start a new business. Or when someone chooses to pursue their dreams even if it doesn’t make sense. The same thing is true, to an extent, in the Christian world. Courage is about leaving. It’s 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.

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3 Comments

  • Jessie says:

    I like what this article has to say.. but I would love it if it expounded a little more on what it actually looks like to stay. How do you know when it’s time to go and when it’s time to stay?

  • MK says:

    It’s a good question, Jessie, and without knowing the specific situation, a good guiding principle is to ask this: “Does what I think might be God’s will for my life contradict what I know God’s will for my life to be?” For example, we know it’s God’s will to do things like avoid sexual immorality, commit to the local church, share the gospel, etc. When we are living in the middle of what we know, I’ve found the grey areas tend to start to become more clear. I deal with topics like these in my book called “Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life” in case you’d like a more in depth explanation.

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