Sharing a little story from my childhood archives about my sainted mother. Join me in wishing her a “Happy Birthday!” later this week. Mom, consider this jaunt down memory lane an early birthday present!
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 – NIV
Just eighteen months after returning home from Vietnam, the Army wanted to send my father back again. Dad was able to contest the assignment and instead, received orders for a thirteen month tour serving on the DMZ between North and South Korea. He wasn’t going to Vietnam, but he was leaving Mom and me again. The year was 1970, and I was 10 years old.
In an odd turn of events, my father’s orders were changed when he arrived in Korea, and he was assigned to the main Army post in Seoul. He was drafted into working in Protocol, an interesting assignment for a Special Forces Airborne sort of guy, but that alas, is a different story. The upshot of this change in assignment was that Dad found out that he could bring Mom and I over to live with him. We would need to live off Post in a Korean neighborhood, but we could use all the military services, and I could attend the Army school.
That’s how Mom and I found ourselves standing in the airport on a crisp October day. Mom had spent weeks gathering the right belongings to fit in our meager luggage, while she and I had endured a grueling list of required immunizations.
On the day we boarded the plane, my mother was so nervous. I, on the other hand, thought this was a grand adventure.
I can still see her trudging down the concourse of the enormous Seattle airport, tickets in hand, toting our carry on bag. It had taken three different flights to get this far, and now she was facing a ten hour flight across the deep blue ocean. The look on my mother’s face and the tremor in her hands signaled that her anxiety level was sky high. Did I mention that she hated flying?
Not me. I was enthralled with the planes and the people. Beany Boy, my faithful doll companion, was riding along on my hip, taking in the scenery and ready for the ride on the brand new 747 aircraft waiting outside our gate. “It’s OK, Mama. It’s going to be fun!”
The look on her face told me that she had a different view of the situation. I guess she did. After all, this young woman was traveling half way around the world on her own with a curly blonde child in tow. Born in a sleepy Southern mill village, I am quite sure she knew little of that Far Eastern nation other than the war that raged on that Asian peninsula in her youth. Surely, she never dreamed she would be traveling there, let alone destined to live there for almost a year.
Courage…that’s what I think about now when I contemplate that journey to Korea. My mother dug deep and found courage she didn’t know she had. She overlooked the adversity and aimed for the outcome, being reunited with my Daddy. For I know quite clearly that my mother never wanted to be anywhere except by my father’s side. She had proved that time and time again as she packed up our household to follow my father.
Mark Twain once penned, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” There are constant sources of fear in our lives. Fear can wreak havoc upon our spirits, leaving us discouraged, frazzled and ineffective.
Courage is what we need to combat fear. Courage is what we need to weather adversity, to overcome affliction. Courage is what we need to face the onslaught of the enemy.
Where do we find such courage? We find it in our faith. We find it in the promises of God. We find it in the strength available to us in Christ Jesus.
Giving into fear is easy. Being courageous is not. Courage is a choice. It’s about choosing to overlook adversity and aim for the outcome. It’s about pressing on toward the prize, not giving up, but soldiering on.
Mama did that so many years ago. Her reward was my Daddy’s smiling face when we stepped off that plane onto Korean soil.
What about you? What perils are you faced with today? Will you dig deep and find the faith to persevere? Will you live courageously?
Resist the fear. Find your faith. Choose to trust. That’s what courage is all about.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 – NIV
O Lord God, You are with us wherever we go. This life throws adversity and affliction at us, and we are afraid. Strengthen us to resist the fear, to stand strong against the onslaught. Help us find the faith to trust in You about everything. For You have promised, You will never leave us nor forsake us, but rather, You go with us wherever we go.