What Happened to Courageous Youth?

We’ve all seen it, college (and high school) aged people who need “safe-spaces” because they’ve heard of seen something that upset them. The rigors of “adulting” are stressing them out and keeping them on medications.

Much has changed over the years in the courage level of young people.

Do we realize that during World War II, at least 250,000 young men between the ages of 14-17 lied about their age because they did not want to miss the chance to fight evil? Far from wanting safety, these young men wanted to go to the most dangerous place they could.

Do we realize that American casualties in World War II alone were more than 400,000?

Do we realize that the parents (and I suspect, the local military representatives who processed these young men) went along with these “boys” (as they would be considered today, but let’s face it, they were already men!) in their desire to go to war?

Let’s not forget the young women of the day. Many of these 250,000 men had sweethearts, as they were often known, and these couples got married quickly so they could at least have a little of the connected life our loving God created before the horrors of war enveloped them.

Often, these young brides ended up pregnant, with their under-age husbands on the front line of the war thousands of miles away. These young courageous young women would go through their pregnancies, childbirth, and figuring out how to be a mommy all alone.

Some would be widows before the child was old enough to walk.

It took a lot of courage on everyone’s part, at a very young age, to do what these young men and women  did.

So once again, when we have young people now needing pills to deal with peacetime, safe spaces to hide from word and images, and a failure to engage the good life (i.e., getting married, moving out, eagerly seeking adulthood), what in the world happened?

The Fear Paradox

It is interesting that in so many of the appearances of either an angel or God himself throughout Scripture, one of the things most often said first is, “Do not be afraid.”

In my book, Superhero; Being Who God Says You Are one of the early chapter is Perfect Fear Casts out Love. I put it nearly first in the book because fear underlies nearly every other problem in human existence.

As I note in Superhero:

You should be afraid, very afraid.

That may sound strange in a chapter about conquering fear, but being courageous requires looking fear-producing situations straight on and choosing to embrace risk.

Risk is all around us, every moment of every day. It’s risky to get out of bed in the morning and also risky not to get out of bed. (p. 12)

The paradox is, although fear is natural and fully justified–if you live in fear, you pretty much miss all of the joy and reward in life.

As a matter of faith, living in fear denies the power and love of God in your life. Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Given a Choice

My new book First-Person Messiah; Transforming Your Life Through Amazing Encounters with Jesus takes you on a look through the eyes of those people who got to walk beside the Messiah.

Here is an excerpt of the scene when the angel comes to Mary, and tells her she will become pregnant:

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”


How could this be?

This can’t be real. 

My heart was racing again, and I was once again face down on the roof. I don’t understand; this can’t be. He has the wrong girl; my life is set, I am marrying Joseph, and I will have his children. Maybe that’s it. I gathered my courage; I was shaking, but he had to mean this was Joseph’s child, right?

I struggled to find the words.

“How will this be, since I am a virgin?” My voice was cracking from the strain, my tears were flowing, and my eyes were tightly closed. Please, Lord, I don’t understand. Let this be Joseph’s child. Please let it be Joseph’s child. This was so confusing; had I not been dreading the whole knowing Joseph as his wife? Now I was begging to have his child? I was so much the wrong girl for this.

I felt a gentle but strong hand on my chin, and my face was pulled upward. I peeked out of one eye; the angel smiled gently, laughed a little, and then held my face in both of his hands.

He said slowly, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High God will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called–” (p. 32, 33)

For those of us who have been long-time believers, you may be too used to this story. But when a woman who is probably very young (teen years) is told the “Holy Spirit” would come upon her, what does that even mean? It was outside of her or anyone else’s reference point–but especially for a young virgin who had not yet been with a man sexually. The whole regular process of getting pregnant would have been scary and weird, much less a spiritual being who is God?

This is one of the reasons why Mary is one of the top people I want to sit at the feet of and hear her whole story–when I get to heaven. As far as I can imagine the terror of the opportunity presented to her–it is hard to imagine anything scarier at that point in life for her to be offered. Let’s skip down a few paragraphs and see the beauty and importance of her response in First-Person Messiah:

I looked back at the angel; he was looking at me, patient, yet with a raised eyebrow. Angels have eyebrows? Wait until I tell my girlfriends that. I smiled a bit at the thought. The angel smiled back but continued to wait. 

I suddenly realized I was being given a choice. 

A choice was mine to make. I rarely was allowed to choose anything, but this?

I didn’t see any way, couldn’t imagine me being…everyone would reject me, right? Joseph was a good man; he would not believe this. He would not take me as his wife; he deserved a good girl. I might be stoned to death; my family will disown me. Who am I to raise the Lord’s child? I am just a girl. I can’t be a mother, not this mother.

I pulled my head away and turned to the side. I was staring at the roof. I could say no. The angel was giving me a choice; the Lord was giving me a choice. (p. 34)

You do realize that each of us is given a choice, if not multiple choices every day, whether or not to choose the path of fearful protection, or of reckless faith? Let us skip forward a few more paragraphs and see Mary’s choice in First-Person Messiah:

The most obvious answer is no. I cannot see anyway of doing what I am being asked to do.

You are a God of seeing.

The Lord knows my name, though; he sent this angel here to me on the roof on a day when I was alone. He isn’t forcing me to do this. He treasures me? He sees me? Why?

I slowly turned back to the angel and looked upward; his head was turned slightly, inquisitive still. I was breathing hard; my heart was racing. I suddenly couldn’t swallow. I felt like I was suffocating.

“I…I am the Lord’s servant,” I said, “May everything you have said about me come true.”

The angel burst out laughing, with tears rolling down his cheek, then he hugged me tightly, so tightly that I closed my eyes again. There was a sudden cool wind; I opened my eyes, and he was gone. (p. 35)

Each of us has to face fear each day and make a decision whether the “God with us,” that is the Immanuel that came through Mary, is actually who he is said to be?

Is he with you, or not?

Just remember, according to the good friend of Jesus there is “no fear in love, for perfect love cast out fear.” (1 Jn. 4:18)

It’s not that we do not feel fear, but we take our fear to our loving Savior, and we simply choose to say, “May it be done to me…”.

Pickup my book Superhero: Being Who God Says You Are for a more complete protocol for dealing with fear. The world needs to see more people like Mary who trust God no matter how scary the situation. The world has too much fear already, don’t add to it.

Be a living demonstration of Immanuel, be courageous and bold! Kick fear to the curb, and take on the daily missions that God has for you!

(Image by Yupa Watchanakit/Shutterstock)

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