Friday, November 7, 2008

Strength, Wisdom, Courage

I was playing around with my camera last night. The ladybug on my bathroom sink caught my attention, and I began taking some pictures. Ladybug here, ladybug there...

Then, I remembered the rings. I knew from the moment I put them in my pocket the morning I returned to my "shack", that I would photograph them one day. Three rings, labeled: "Strength", "Wisdom" and "Courage".

Three simple words. Three things that I pray for... again and again... It wasn't until I stacked them on top of each other that I realized how well they compliment each other.

And it wasn't until right now that I realized how differently I define them these days....through the lens of my God-connection, and not the world's view.

Strength,to me, is more than being physically strong. The strength that I refer to, and pray for, is the inner fortitude to stand steadfast in the midst of a storm. To stay focused on the Truth while lies and deception swirl around, distract, and block the path.

With wisdom I know that I can not muster up sustained - or sustaining - strength on my own accord. I may be able to "white knuckle" it for a while, but if it is going to be true staying power - that kind of strength comes to me from God. Wisdom also shows me that sometimes, it takes much more strength to let go, than to hold on tightly for all I'm worth.

Ah, the glorious paradox of wisdom! Encompassing more than mere intelligence, wisdom has an element of experience, and God-given discernment. It is more than knowing that 1+1+1 = 3. Sometimes - depending on what you are adding - it is a big mess. Since life is so much more than the sum of it's parts, it involves a deeper "knowing" than the quick assessment of the obvious.

The thing about wisdom... it often requires courage and strength to be heard... especially if it presents itself in the midst of a crisis, or the truth runs contrary to the prevailing cultural norms (or what I want to hear!).

Finally, courage. I've said before that courage is "fear that has said it's prayers". I used to wonder how people could do these amazingly brave things without fear. One day, I asked someone that very question. "Without fear?" she said, "I was scared to death!"

Courage is asking the question - even though I know I don't want to hear the answer. It is facing the difficult times, searching through the dark corners. It is speaking the unpopular truth, and holding up mirrors. And, sometimes, courage needs strength and wisdom to "Do it afraid".

And, while I know that I have not been given" a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind", it is the combination of Wisdom and Strength that remind me of my Courage..

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