I can’t count the number of times in the last six months or so that someone has said to me something along the lines of “You’re so brave!” for moving to Ghana. Sometimes I feel like the person is talking to someone else, like when you look over the shoulder of the person in front of you while you’re talking to him. What is brave about me? I have no blinking idea. Am I brave? I don’t know. I certainly do not feel brave the vast majority of the time. To be honest, this whole enterprise scares the bejeebers out of me more than not. Let’s list a few of the things that make me nervous/scared about moving to Africa:
- Leaving family and friends on the other side of an ocean
- Big bugs
- Tropical diseases
- Spotty electricity, water, and internet
- Horrendous traffic
- The threat of persecution for the Faith
- Flying internationally with four small children
Right now, sitting in New Mexico, having been on the road for almost a month, just the idea of the 1000-mile drive home makes me question my sanity some days. I certainly feel a lot of things, but brave is not really one of them.
I just came across a quote from Gen. George Patton (under whom my grandfather served in WWII), that I think puts it well:
If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.
I really, honestly, do not know whether I am brave or not. People tell me that I am. I think that my wife is, more so than myself. But I cannot say for sure that I am brave.
What I know I am is two things: 1) a woefully inadequate man, husband, father, and pastor; and 2) a forgiven sinner who, by the grace of God, has been called and empowered to be each of the things that I, as #1, can’t be on my own.
So I suppose you can tell me I’m brave, if you want to. But I’d much rather hear that you’re praying for me. Because the prayers of the faithful will accomplish much more than one so-called brave man ever could. And it is much more encouraging to know that we are in your prayers.
PS: For those of you who say to yourself, “I could never do that!”, just do it! I’m not in this gig because I’m brave or whatever, but because it’s what the Lord set before me, and the work has to be done. That’s about the sum of things. I know it’s the Nike slogan, but really, “Just Do It.”