It’s an honor to publish the following article, written by Shawna Horn, pastor and friend. You can visit Shawna’s website at pastormomma.wordpress.com.
BRAVE. DEDICATED TO G.W. CARLSON
Today my second grader brought home this valentine. It says, “You are good at living with half of a heart. You must have been brave, right from the start.”
Sometimes we don’t get to choose where we have to be brave. Sometimes we just have to be brave because we don’t get a choice. My son didn’t get to choose how his heart developed. I didn’t get to choose (I mean there was a choice offered, but I didn’t choose for his heart to grow the way it did.) We don’t always get to choose if our job works out or if our marriage works out. We don’t always get to choose when we get sick or how the ones we love get sick. We don’t usually get to choose when a war starts, the rain stops, the winds come.
There are a lot of things in this life we don’t really get to choose. But these are the things that often make us who we are. They set direction. They create definition. Or they become our excuse.
I was reflecting on Moses today as I continue on this Lenten journey. Moses didn’t have a choice in the world he was born into. He didn’t get to choose that his family had to abandon him or that he was adopted by his enemy. Now he did choose to kill an Egyptian soldier – and he did choose to flee into the dessert. He used his anger and rage about his situation to make a bad choice. It was his excuse.
And when he was found by God in the wilderness, living contentedly for 40 years, Moses continued to be full of excuses. God calls to him and reveals his plan… I have heard the cries of my people and I will send you to them to rescue them.
Moses responds, “Who am I?” Why me?
God reassures him… I will be with you.
Moses responds again, “Who are you?”
God responds, “I AM.”
Moses responds, “What if they don’t believe me?”
God responds, “I will give you what you need, the tools you need.”
Moses responds, “But I am not a public speaker. I stutter.”
God responds, “I will send your brother to help you.”
Moses didn’t get to choose any of the early defining moments of his life. But there is a sense that God spared him, protected him, and prepared him for this moment. And Moses tried every excuse, but God was not going to quit on Moses. Moses, be brave.
But God. God didn’t quit. He showed him who he was. He showed him who God is. He gave him the tools he needed and the support he needed.
In our own lives, we don’t usually get to choose those things that are hard. Those things that require real courage. We don’t get to always choose when or how our life falls apart or spirals out of control.
The call to be brave. This call to trust in this God who is, who equips and provides, it has come again today. Today this world lost another incredible human being. G.W. Carlson was a friend and a mentor. And not just to me. He saw people for their potential. And he cared enough to take the time to teach them, encourage them, challenge them and lead them. One by One. Class by class. G.W. was brave enough to be honest, was brave enough to care. And all for purpose of encouraging leaders to do the work of the gospel, of sharing the Kingdom of God with the world. G.W. looked at this world and responded to God’s call by inspiring generations of leaders to live the gospel, prophetically, thoughtfully, always with humor and a bit of flattery.
And in this moment of grief, we don’t get to choose to be brave. We must be brave. Because we know, we know like G.W. knew, who we are in God. We know who God is. We can be confident that God will equip us for the challenge. And we know we are not alone.
The little boy who sent my son this Valentine, had no idea what he was really saying. But when I consider what it is to be brave from the start… Most of us are not. But we can be brave from this moment… We can choose to be brave because God knows us. God is powerful. God gives us what need. And we are not alone.
This is the journey of Lent. A call to embrace our humanity and not accept the state of it. A call to look at those hard things and challenge them, bravely. A call to embrace the hope of a God who wants so much more for this world and the people it contains.