Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Act of Courage

There is never an ideal time to do anything. We can wait forever if we think that ideal opportunities will present themselves for acts of kindness and deeds of love. We have to seize the day. Grasp the opportunity. Make the most of good times and bad times. There must be a certain reckless abandon about the way we act. We cannot always be careful and calculating. We must do what should be done, even when we don't have the time or when things are not convenient.

Nouwen captures these sentiments in the following prayer: "Let me have the courage to live fully even when it is risky, vibrantly even when it leads to pain, and spontaneously even when it leads to mistakes." [FN]

This attitude should characterize not only the way we live, but also the way we serve. Service is never safe. It is always risky. We never know how we will be received and what the outcomes will be. Service is also never perfect. We serve in spite of our mistakes and our weaknesses. And service also can lead to pain. It can lead to the server feeling empty after having given much. It can also result in a lack of appreciation. It usually involves carrying burdens that are not our own.

The more we think about all of this, the less we are likely to do. Thus service is an act of courage. It is an act of boldness. It is in some ways a foolhardy thing to do.

Courage to Act: Serving in the Face of Difficulty, Reflection 99, Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen by Charles Ringma.

[FN] A Cry for Mercy, p. 139.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jim, this reminds me a little of John Eldridge who says we should be "wild at heart" because our God is wild at heart. And it reminds me of Lewis's Aslan character, who is "...not safe, but he's good". Finally, it reminds me of the Master who gives out money to his servants to invest and rewards the risk takers but is angry with the timid one. You have been writing some very challenging stuff this week. Sometimes I barely have the strength to let it sink in. Thank you for the spur. -pj