constructing courage

There’s a house currently being constructed directly behind mine. Each day I watch the process as the workers settle the land, pour the new foundation, and begin framing the walls. I always think about the courage of the construction workers. Their work may seem routine or mundane, but they really are brave souls- climbing onto dangerous heights, working with high-powered machinery, and skillfully grasping their designer’s plans.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul uses a similar image to remind us of an important truth. He says, “If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.” This “new creation” that Paul talks about, means that in Christ, we have a new settlement, a new foundation, an entirely new frame. We are just like that new home—masterfully designed, carefully constructed, and thoughtfully built up each and every day, by our Creator. 1 Peter 2:5 says it another way, “You are like living stones being built into a spiritual house.”

You are a spiritual home being constructed by God; what an incredible truth!

As we all know, there are so many things that can become little wrecking balls in our lives. There is so much that attempts to destroy God’s good work and so much that tries to demolish us.

What do we do when we feel emotions like fear, inadequacy, or jealousy? When we feel like we’re being torn down?

How should we respond when another person’s life adventure seems to be going better than our own? How do we react when our circumstances weigh so heavily on our hearts that we can’t see beyond them? How do we deal when we become stuck in fear, a sin struggle, or a painful relational conflict?

It’s easy to blame social media for this. We’ve all heard some version of, “with social media, we’re comparing our insides to another person’s outsides.” But let’s be honest—inadequacy, fear, jealousy, bitterness, and other “wrecking balls” have been around for centuries.

Social media is not the problem. It’s our hearts. They need some rebuilding. And just like those construction workers in my backyard, it takes courage to realize our Designer’s plans.

A few years ago, I was battling some wrecking balls of my own, and I desperately needed courage to stand firm. So, I came up with an acronym for the word COURAGE: Christ-Centered, Overcoming, Unashamed/Unafraid, Restorative, Authentic, Growing, Encouraging, along with a series of questions and truths. If you need some courage of your own, may the COURAGE acronym strengthen you:

Christ-Centered - Am I keeping Jesus at the center of my heart? My mind? My schedule? My fantasy-life? What I am listening to, learning about, or even watching? Have I allowed the world and its lies to creep into my soul? I never want to be legalistic. But I do want to thoughtfully build on nothing less than the Cornerstone of Jesus.

Overcoming - Am I empowering other women, friends, and neighbors to overcome life’s difficulties and or sin? Or am I too self-focused? Am I continuing to overcome my own struggles with the Spirit’s help? Am I living in the power that God has given me? Or have I let my insecurities and fears take over? I fight under the banner of the King of kings who has already claimed victory over every circumstance. I can overcome in the strength of my Overcomer.

Unashamed/Unafraid - Am I allowing shame to define me as a woman of God? Am I allowing fear to control me? Jesus, let my faith be bigger than my shame and fear. My being is defined by your doing. My doing is a result of your being. Therefore, I have nothing to be ashamed of and fear has no hold. You are by my side.

Restorative - Am I restoring brokenness in my relationships, in my home, at my workplace, in church, on my street, in my city, and in the world? I am called the Repairer of Broken Cities according to Isaiah. So am I living up to that name, or am I tearing others (and even myself) down?

Authentic - Am I being honest and real about my struggles and flaws to a few close friends and asking them to pray for me? Or am I hiding sin and keeping my shadow feelings a secret? Shame and sin grow in the darkness, but they cannot survive in God’s marvelous light.

Growing - Am I maturing spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, relationally, physically, and in gratefulness? Or am I stuck in a rut? Am I developing healthy, regular spiritual practices? I am an under-construction project, so I can be graceful with myself—but I never want to stop growing.

Encouraging - Am I lavishing love on everyone around me? Am I pouring out the abundance of Jesus to those he has put in my path? When I encourage others (literally, putting courage in them), I am truly living like a daughter of God.

Woman, you are chosen by God. You are his precious possession. You are his beautiful daughter. You are his new creation, his spiritual home. But we’re all still under construction.

Take courage—your faithful builder is at work skillfully restructuring and remodeling your life and your heart as part of his perfectly designed plan. His firm foundation is stronger and more powerful than anything trying to knock you down. Build your courage in Christ—and you will always stand firm.

Aubrey Sampson

Aubrey is the author of Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul (Zondervan) and an upcoming book on lament and hope with NavPress. She and her husband Kevin, and their three young sons, planted Renewal Church in the Chicagoland area, where Aubrey serves on the preaching team. Aubrey is part of the Propel Cohort at Wheaton College and travels around the country speaking and preaching at a variety of churches. Find and follow Aubrey on Instagram, Facebook, and www.aubreysampson.com.   

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