Month 4, Step 4 – Courage.
Two men decide to ride their bikes across Death Valley which is a remarkable feat of endurance pitting man against some of the harshest conditions mother nature has to offer. The first is young and strong and fills his water bottles to start his trek without telling anyone in July. His body is found on the side of the road by a trucker three days later with a flat tire in 135-degree weather. The other trains for a few months while he plans his route, gets a support van, and decides in early October to take on the task. He lives to tell the story.
While the difference seems to be about preparation, it can be distilled even more into the difference in mindset: the difference between courage and recklessness. To put it another way: courage is the exercise of faith that a great task can be achieved and recklessness is an exercise in the ego’s insistence on self-sufficiency. Those familiar with God’s Word won’t be surprised that he has a lot to say about fear and courage:
“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1
To paraphrase: on your own your fears control you even when they are unfounded, but when you are right with God (an easy definition of the word “righteous”) you will not be afraid. Recklessness vs. Courage – do I really have to ask if you have a preference?
Step 4 has been a huge stumbling block to so many 12-steppers in the past leading to many-a-relapse when it is literally just making a list. Why is that? The simple answer is that some people gloss over the first three steps and say that they are ready for step 4 when they aren’t. We are supposed to look at steps 1 through 3 as putting on the armor of God. For a detailed vision of this read Ephesians 6:10-17 (Look, I know you’ve read it before, but blow the dust off your Bible and read it again – now, please). Until you completely get that God has your back, you don’t have the resources to dive into a simple inventory.
Prematurely jumping into step 4 without the armor of God is like taking off across Desert Valley on your own in July. Reckless. Finding the faith that God will protect you in anything you do in His name is the point of steps 1-3. The steps are in order and numbered for a reason. We all know how super-smart you are, but humor us and have the courage to do them thoroughly and in the correct order if you want a Godly outcome.
You will live to tell the story.
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