I had been preaching in Waco, Texas for about a year. Of course, I had already had some difficult experiences in the fifteen years of preaching before that. At times, I was nervous before some meetings, particularly if I wasn’t quite sure what to do or say. On some occasions, I was nervous before counseling an individual or couple. So much was on the line. Would I say the right thing?
On this Sunday morning, I was particularly nervous. I had learned days before that I had a large tumor on my spine. I was to have surgery in the middle of June (1994). The surgery meant opening my chest. Never having had surgery before, all of this was a new experience. The doctor thought it was benign. Yet, that was little comfort to me. I wanted to know for sure.
That Sunday morning, I told the congregation that I was about to have surgery and that, according to the surgeon, I would be recovering much of the summer. I gave what information I had and then to them that I would appreciate their prayers and that Charlotte and I had already been praying about this for several weeks. I then said:
I am cautiously optimistic and scared to death.
The church was very gracious and supportive. That morning, they prayed for us and communicated their love for our family.
A former minister was present that morning. During lunch, he called our home and asked if we could meet that afternoon. Later in the afternoon, I met with him and was taken aback by what he said:
You shouldn’t have told the church that you were “scared to death.” They must not know this. They need to hear that you trust God.
I told him that I do trust God! I trust that he will be with me through the whole ordeal. I then told him that nevertheless, my emotions are raw and yes, I am afraid and nervous. Yet, I was trusting God regardless of these emotions.
What does it mean to move forward in your life? It means to trust God regardless of what your emotions may be telling you. It means to trust God when you face the unknown. It means to trust God even when there are obstacles and hurdles.
Courage is not about putting on a brave face or pretending that nothing fazes you. Courage is not bravado while you talk about how you’ve “been around the block.”
Courage is daring to trust God – regardless.
(I had the surgery and the tumor was benign. Yet through that experience, I learned so much about trusting God.)