It’s a bad thing. It’s a good thing.
Let’s be honest. When you look in the mirror, what kind of person do you see? Do you see a person of courage? [pause for a moment and think] Do you see a person of strength or of integrity? [pause again and think deeply] Do you see a person of conviction? Of firmness? Of consistency?
(At least not always)
You see, in the days wherein we live, we often deceive ourselves. You and I do. We live in a pretentious world, full of masks and hypocrisy, overflowing with lies and deception, and the worst part, we seldom take time to pause and think things through.
I remember, I started this blog the day after I truly saw myself. Dipped in the chilly waters of Valens Conservation Lake, on the afternoon hours of August 21, 2011, I came face to face with the true me: empty, sinful, confused, directionless, a masked man. With the serenity of the waters casting my physical reflection, so did the holiness of God shed light to my depressing state. I was empty and in despair. Not even my past successes or greatest achievements can bring a hint of smile to my gloomy soul. Physically shivering and spiritually shaken, all I could ever do was cry. Weep. Mourn. I still remember that day. Abba makes me remember.
This past weekend, a little more than four years have passed, I was taken back to a similar encounter.
It was a Sunday and with an attentive and honest heart, I listened and meditated on the message about Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial. Within those two hours, the only word that resonated to my vulnerable soul is the strong word: “COWARD”. Earlier that day, in my prayer closet, God hinted on what is to come. I was somewhat prepared.
“Be honest with yourself. If you are a child, admit your immaturity and do not pretend to be the man you are not. (At least not yet). It will hinder growth. Be honest with yourself.”
We are cowards in facing the truth.
Admitting the truth does not hold us a prisoner to that truth. In contrary, it sets us free. It sets you free. Before an exam, convincing ourself that we know it all when we really don’t doesn’t make us ready for the exam. It is the admittance that we are unprepared which moves us to prepare. (At least for the next exam.) The same goes with all other truths about us.
Admitting our immaturity does not mean that we’ll be childlike and immature the rest of our life. Instead, it will settle the confusion and silence the guilt in our soul brought about by hypocrisy, and set our eyes on better things ahead. It will direct us towards the pursuit of maturity.
Admitting our sinful state does not mean we’ll forever be sinful. Instead, it humbles us and will push us to look for a solution, a Saviour, a Lord. (Jesus Christ).
So that sunday morning, cornered by a call to honesty, I admitted my cowardliness before God. I saw myself in the life of the disciple Peter: ever ready in words, usually lacking in life. It’s never easy to admit that we are cowards. In this pretentious world, we have the notion that we cannot show ourselves to be weak. We should always be on top of things. In the presence our friends, our coworkers, our FAMILY, and our SELVES. I know I am. We are, by default, proud and defending about our names, our reputation. We are quick to answer, “I can do it”. And sometimes, even more quicker to reply, “Even if others won’t, I will!”; only to find ourselves running and ashamed a little later.
And even if we actually did what we said, we find ourselves drowned in EVEN MORE pride, EVEN MORE hypocrisy. Hypocrisy that is, sooner than later, bound to be exposed in light.
The worst part, our cowardliness is before God, to Him who loved us.
That sunday morning, as God exposed my cowardliness, flashes of memories rushed before me. How as a son, I’ve lost my ability to share. How as a brother, I do not have the confidence to instruct and inspire. How as a leader, I do not have the courage to speak up. How as a friend, I cannot find the words of rebuke. How as a Christian, I do not have the boldness to witness. When in university, I dropped my thesis in unbelief because of the fear of failing, or I ran from my responsibility of discipling a friend. I probably am getting carried away here. There just so much memories. Those memories of cowardly behaviour overwhelmed me to silence, then to tears.
“How can a man, called and renewed by God, act as such? Am I not fully renewed? Transformed?”
That was the question that haunted my night. I had a glimpse of the guilt that engulfed the Apostle Peter’s heart and soul from the time the rooster crowed three times to that talk on the beach in John 21. Living day after day with the realization of his cowardliness and betrayal, yet finding no comfort.
“What is the root of cowardliness?”, I asked.
The revelation of its simplicity surprised me. (Praise the Holy Spirit.) The root of cowardliness is not fear as we know it. Rather, it is the ABSENCE OF THE FULL UNDERSTANDING OF THE TRUTH.
Just recently, I learned this simple yet powerful word: “FORTITUDE”. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “strength of mind that enables a person to meet danger or bear pain or hardship with courage”. Teacher John MacArthur summarizes it in three key elements:
– Conviction (standing on the truth that you know)
– Courage (has the courage to uphold those convictions)
– Strength (has the strength to sustain attacks against that principle)
Why are we cowards? Because we do not fully know what we stand for. WE LACK TRUTH. In conflict, we run. Challenged by the wild current of peer pressure, we are easily swayed. In adversity, in hardships, in pain, we give up. In failure, we stop trying. Taunted by evil, we choose to be silent; worst, we choose to deny the truth.
Though fear has its part, we do not have courage because we lack conviction. We lack conviction because we do not understand the truth. We do not know the truth because do not seek the truth; we are content in deception. We have become cowards because we’ve chosen the comforts of our masks. But until we realize this, repent from it, admit our weakness, put ourselves in the position to be strengthened, decide to change, and start seeking and understanding the Truth, things will remain the same. (Same forever) [Revelations 22:11]
We need to decide to be men of fortitude.
Probably similar to the Apostle Peter on that betrayal night, I slept with a weary soul but things didn’t remain gloomy for me. (Light disperses darkness)
I woke up the next day just wanting to forget the previous night’s episode. That’s what we usually do right. Instead of confronting the issue, searching for the truth, and settling the conflict (within our soul), we’d rather forget it and move on, leaving things broken. In fact that’s what Peter did. He went back to fishing.
But that morning, Abba cornered me again with His Hope. Through an often taken-for-granted piece of His beautiful creation, I saw a simple reminder of His love. I saw a SPARROW. [Matthew 10:29-31] A fat, lively, beautiful, joyful (smiling) sparrow. Then the following song just leaped and leaped and leaped in my heart.
♩And I will run to You, to Your words of truth ♪ Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of God ♪ Yes I will run the race, till I see Your face ♫ Lord let me live in the glory of Your grace 🎶
Call me a coward. That’s the truth. That’s the bad news! I only have a tiny bit of courage and it will never, in this lifetime, overpower the greater amount of cowardliness in me. My own strength or will-power is insufficient. Nothing in this world can fix that. No treatment. No class. No person. No rehab.
But it does not end there for me, for us. There’s a good news. A good news that is out of this world. We can be men of fortitude. We can be made strong. We can be made courageous. We can live consistently. We can lift our heads up again. We can be set free again into our destiny, into His purpose. There is Hope. There is a way.
How? Fully know and understand the Truth. Know Jesus Christ.
Some of you might have reached this part of the blog asking why should I care? What is this truth? Who is this Jesus? Why should I admit my cowardliness or what can this Jesus person do about it?
You should care because sooner or later, in this life or the next, you will face an indomitable foe that will reveal you weakness and your cowardliness. A corrupt boss can take away your integrity. An unfaithful spouse can take away your joy. A failed exam or failure in your career can take away your hope. An abusive parent can take away your honor. A selfish friend can take away your trust. An accident can take away your physique, intelligence, or beauty. Calamities can take away your home, your money, your security. Economic collapse can take away your job or your savings. And worst, death can take away your family or your life.
When these happen, what truth should you stand up for? Where will you get the courage to stand back up? Where will you get the strength to keep on standing?
I, many times in my life, have fallen so hard on the ground. There were times when there was no other option but to give up, even to give up life. What I had back then, what I had just this Sunday, and what I have in the future is this TRUTH: Jesus loves me, died for me, saved me from my misery, and gave me courage and hope to keep on pursuing Him, and continues. My relationship with Jesus continues to give me life, not a problem free one, but a purposeful one.
In my cowardliness, Jesus proves to be my strength. What is good about cowardliness is that it points me back to Him who loved me. I am sharing this to you so that you too can find strength in whatever pain or adversity or hardship you are going through. I’ve been there many times too and this is my only advice: give Jesus a chance. (Message me if you want to know more about Jesus and His purpose)
Let me end by sharing this childhood treasure from the movie “Lion King”. (Remember the coward Simba?)
“Yes. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.”
“Remember who you are. You are My son”
The word of God says:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lordyour God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
Hebrew 10:39; 1 Kings 2:2-4; 1 Chronicles 8:20; Joshua 1:5-9; John 16:33
Be strong friend. Be courageous brother and sister. (In Christ)