Heart Matters: Courage Enough

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Eddie and Felicia stumbled through the doors of our inner city
church — red-faced, feverish, and coughing. They were both very
sick.

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Not knowing what we could do for them, Lucy and I ventured into
the food bank and filled a cardboard box with any canned good that
had vitamin C in it. We knew there wasn’t much more we could do
without their mother’s consent.

We packed frozen juice but realized they probably didn’t have a
pitcher. We packed cans of soup, then we remembered how one of the
boys who lives with Eddie and Felicia had to get stitches because
he was trying to open a can with a knife. So we went to the
neighborhood store and got vitamins, cough drops, a can opener, and
a juice pitcher.

We walked the two blocks from the church to Eddie and Felicia’s
run-down house and sat on their cluttered porch. I couldn’t help
but think about the fact that Eddie and Felicia probably don’t even
have beds to sleep in, let alone a mother who cares for them. After
we showed Felicia how to make juice in the pitcher, we said our
goodbyes and walked away…with an ache that seemed it would never
go away.

All is not well.

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At times it seems that Eddie and Felicia are destined to be empty
shells of what was supposed to be a promise. The streets are known
for their thievery, because around here one rarely finds a second
chance that hasn’t been pillaged, let alone a dream or a
wish.

The dangling desperation settles on the cement until hope shakes
us up like an unexpected, sorely needed gust of wind. And no doubt,
with God in the wings, hope is never far away.

It takes more than creativity to look at poverty and come up with
some kind of solution. No religious program or plan will ever be
enough to shake up apathy and despair. God has given us faith in
the midst of impossibilities, joy to wear the edges off everyday
piercing realities, and grace to redeem our foolishness.

In the face of what seems unattainable, God gives us courage. And
not just courage, but courage enough.

In some form or another, we all have to shut the door and walk
away from places like Eddie and Felicia’s. Our lack of options
leaves us feeling helpless as we can only give them a Band-Aid for
an infection that rages like cancer. But with an ironic twist,
courage denies the seemingly, optionless one more option. You can’t
shake your head in despair.

This courage helps us cling to a promise of a Father who cares
about Eddie and Felicia — not just their bodies, but their souls.
This sacred daring leaves no time to feel sorry for injustice.
Instead it simply calls us to action until justice is met. Courage
from God empowers us to bring about unthinkable change with
unlikely means and measures. With courage you choose to wrap your
arms around a child instead of resigning yourself to a selfish
session of worry. With courage you believe in a God who breathes
miracles, holds out peace, and offers an inconceivable way through
this mess and right into his arms.

This life is full of such paradoxes; we must cling to the
promises. Our souls gather for a collective lingering as we wait
for justice, peace, and compassion. We stand with a courage so
thick that it sinks our feet into a rock and brings our hearts to
the very soul of God.

Courage lessens our ache but lengthens our longing. It seals up
the space between life here and the love there. Heaven. Courage
molds our standing into stepping until the journey leads us home.
And courage from God is always courage enough.

A.B. Larson ministers to children in inner city
Denver.

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