This past Sunday, we read together an outrageous vision: blind eyes opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women dancing. Isaiah consistently instigates the Israelites’ imagination, dethroning the despair that they feel during uncertain and difficult times. But these images are not meant to be mere fantasy or the illusion of a happy ending. For in the heart of the passage comes the call, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here!” If it is a far-away dream, there would be no courage needed.
This academic year, we invite you to courageously imagine God’s kingdom here and now. The lost find a home and take root. The aged are cherished. The divine is discovered right beneath our feet. The weary find renewed energy. The complacent awaken their imagination. The paralyzed learn to walk again. The dry lands flourish abundantly.
It is happening now – Courage! Take heart!
But let me be specific: the kind of courage we’re talking about is not the kind needed for Ninja Warrior competitions. We are not talking about a kind of courage that depends upon our best attempts at being super-human. I have a three-fold mantra lately that I have been reciting: (1) know how human I am and be less mad about it, (2) know how God our God is and be more in awe of it, and (3) know how Christ-enriched the human relationship is and be more responsive to it.
Courage is not merely a product of gritting our teeth and acting like we’re not scared. Courage is not just a public show of bravery. Courage is not about foolishness for its own sake… it’s about the Christ-crucified kind of foolishness. True courage comes only once we are saved from our own selfish attempts at greatness. True courage is received when we see the outcome as dependent not upon our own singular efforts but upon a divine source larger than we are. True courage is what we embrace when we realize that God’s larger project invites our own participation here and now.
How will God call forth courage in you this year? What acts of love and mercy will be birthed when we choose courage? How will Highland grow deeper in faith, in love, in humility, in calling because (not in spite) of the interim? Courage! Take heart! The journey has already begun!