Friday, May 8, 2009

Leading the Way

I think nowadays too many people fall into a little niche called a ‘comfort zone’. We go on with our lives, day after day, falling into the same routines and the same habits and consciously fight to keep those routines and habits intact. I feel we do this for many different reasons, one of which is so we’ll know what to expect every day so we can feel ‘safe’. Another reason is so we can ‘control’ our situation. If there’s nothing new coming at us, nothing that we didn’t already expect or plan for, then we can breeze through the day quiet easily and not have to deal with confrontation/challenges that we may otherwise have had to face.

Lately, I have been challenged with a crossroads in my own life. I have been challenged with the opportunity to stand up for myself, for what I believe in, at the possible sacrifice of one of life’s necessities. I believe we come across these crossroads at different times in our lives. It is a point where we are forced to make a decision to either continue in the same routine, our ‘comfort zone’, or break out of the mundane into something new, something extraordinary. Sometimes these crossroads are created when our ethics or morals are challenged, sometimes they are created when we are faced with several different roads to take in our life and we are forced to pick one. I believe in picking the one less traveled. Far too often we want to continue down the familiar, down the road where we know every nook and cranny of the path and there is nothing to excite, scare or challenge us.

When our ethics, our morals, whatever it is that we believe in, are threatened or challenged, do we try to work AROUND the situation so we can continue on with life but not face the threat? Or do we stand up, face the threat, and stand our ground with what we believe in? Do we speak out against evil or injustice, or do we wait in the sidelines, hoping for someone else to speak up so we can grab onto their coattails? When you are faced with an almost impossible decision, do you allow your circumstances or those around you to determine your position on a matter? Because your life is in a tough spot, or because your friends won’t be your ‘friends’ any longer because you won’t fall into their habits of self-depreciation, do you go along for the ride to fit in, or do you take that moment in time as an opportunity to stand up and say no? Sometimes this is simply a matter of confidence, but other times it is simply a matter of fear that prevents us from acting the way we should act, the way we were made to act.

What I have learned in the last couple weeks, is that sometimes you are put in a situation, or allowed to go through a particular situation, specifically so that you can lead the way for others who are intimidated or fearful of the situation itself. Sometimes you may be at school or work, and others believe what you believe, but won’t stand up for their beliefs because they are afraid what others may think or how they may be treated because of it. Nobody wakes up in the morning and wishes for confrontation that day, but sometimes confrontation and challenges are inevitable if we want to succeed in life. Sometimes we simply need to stand our ground, and the path that God has wanted for us the whole time opens up and allows us passage. A bible verse that comes to mind is Esther 4:14 "If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” This verse was brought to my attention by a good friend of mine and it explains my point so well. God can always find someone to stand up for the good in this world, but what if he’s picked you or I? Do I want to be one of the one’s that simply waits for someone else to stand up, or do I want to follow my calling to take a stand against injustice wherever it may crop up?

This isn’t to say that standing up for what you believe in is easy or fun. Sometimes it can come at a great sacrifice, as martyrdom does, and sometimes it can leave you lonely and wondering if you even did the right thing. Standing up for ethics, morals and principles that this world can too easily neglect or pretend don’t exist, is the right thing. Sometimes we may feel that it’s just us and God that are standing up in the storm, and that’s okay. Sometimes, that has to be enough. Sometimes standing up for your principles will show who your true friends are, and even reveal who your enemies are. And that needs to happen. Too often, we surround ourselves with people that tell us what we want to hear. We surround ourselves with others who accept us because we don’t stand up for what we believe in, and we trade that defining attribute for the sense of security, the sense of acceptance. We should be fulfilled knowing that we are accepted by God and secure in knowing that whatever we may face, if we follow Him, we will come through to the other side. We may not be unscathed, though, and I think that a perception that many have is that leading the Christian life will keep us safe from harm and safe from turmoil. That’s not always true, though. Sometimes we will be hurt, by those we thought were friends, by those we find are enemies. But God has us in His hands and will carry us through to our destiny, and we will find healing along the way.

The very idea of standing up for oneself isn’t all that easy to accept sometimes, but I strongly feel it is what we need to do a lot more of. There is a line, of being humble and serving others in a Christ-like manner, but that line can be crossed and when it is, it is our responsibility to stand up for our beliefs, to protect the boundaries God has sought for us to set up. Sometimes standing up for those beliefs will cause us to lose jobs, friends, money, opportunities, but what is gained is greater than all of those things. Some people call this a revolution, some call it rebellion. I simply ask, what do you believe in and are you living your life in such a way that it sets an example of that belief for others to see, even if that ‘other’ is just God Himself?

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