Sunday, December 2, 2007

To Be Real: Bravery

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there, if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” – Psalms 138:9

In the story of Pinocchio, the blue fairy tells the little wooden boy that if he wants to become real, he has to prove to be brave, truthful, and unselfish. God wants His children to be real as well. He wants us to have a true relationship with Him, not a superficial one. He wants us to be able to shed the cloaks of personality and character we put on to please people, and just be ourselves with Him. In order to do that, we also have to be brave.

Bravery comes in many different forms. We think of soldiers as being brave. They fight for what they know to be right. They show loyalty to their country. They stand for what is right even in the face of death. God seeks this kind of bravery in us.

Being a Christian is a way of life, a chosen profession. You can be saved, yet not be a Christian. To be a Christian is to strive be Christ-like. A real Christian has to be brave enough to stand for Christ in the face of opposition, to be counted for Christ when it’s not popular. It means listening to God’s voice, and following His call as a servant. That can be frightening. If you don’t think so, ask a missionary who’s been sent into the region of witchcraft in Nigeria, or into the areas of Jihad in Iran. Bravery means fighting for what is right.

Just as Pinocchio found out, there are obstacles we must face in life. The blue fairy gave Pinocchio a helper. She named a little cricket named Jiminy to become his conscience, and gave him the title of “Lord high keeper of the knowledge of right and wrong, counselor in moments of temptation, and guide along the straight and narrow path”. She then instructed Pinocchio to let his conscience be his guide.

As Christians, the Holy Spirit is our guide. He is our keeper of the knowledge of right and wrong, our counselor when temptation comes, and our guide along the right path. But we often choose to not listen to that still small voice and go our own way.

On the first morning of being “live”, Geppetto sent his little boy to school. But along the way he met up with a fox named “Honest John” who showed Pinocchio that he could have a life of fame and fortune if he went into the acting business. Jiminy tried to warn him. He pointed to Honest John and said “Remember what I said about temptation? That’s him!” But Pinocchio ignored his guide, and set off on his own path. He soon found out that the life of fame and fortune would trap him, literally! He was placed in a cage and could not escape.

There’s a scene in the movie where Pinocchio is still trapped by the puppet master, and Geppetto is looking for him. His father, Geppetto, walks in the cold and rain calling out to Pinocchio, “Oh, where can he be? Where can my little boy be? Oh, Pinocchio!” He wants him back. He wants him home.
Our father wants us with Him. When we choose the life of sin over the life He has for us, He still seeks to have us with Him. He still calls out to us. But when you’ve been captured by the life of your own desires, it can be very hard to let go. That’s when bravery must be found.

Sin can be as confining as Pinocchio’s cage, yet it can feel as comfortable as an old shoe. Change can be frightening. Friends may be lost. Habits may have to change. The places you visit may have to change. But wherever you go, whatever you do, God is always there for you. You can find courage in that. You can be brave. Psalms 139:8 says, “If I ascend into heaven, You are there, if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Even though where you are at can feel like hell, you cannot escape the love God has for you. He is a faithful Father. He still calls out to you.

Do you want to be real with God? Step out in faith and find Him. He’s waiting. He will release you from your bondage. Turn and go back home to God. Turn from the bondage you’ve created, and allow him to give you real life. He’ll welcome you home.

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