More Moxie, Please

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. (James 1:12)

I know many of us don't feel very 'fortunate' when we are faced with challenges that test our faith or fortitude. In fact, we probably groan a bit and wish the doggone thing would just evaporate before our eyes. We might dig in because we know it isn't going to just go 'poof' and be gone, but then somehow we don't have the fortitude to stick it out. Fortitude is both the mental and physical strength to face the difficulty with courage. If you are like me, getting my mind and body to align is a challenge a great deal of time - I get one motivated and moving, but the other seems to lag behind or go in a totally different direction! Have you ever seen something coming at your head-on? As a teen, I remember a group of boys in the neighborhood playing 'chicken' with their bikes. They would ride at each other, picking up more and more speed, all in an attempt to prove one had more 'moxie' than the other. The courage of spirit and the determination of the mind to persevere in an attempt to be declared the one who was 'more courageous' than the other, combined with the testosterone wafting in the air made for a dangerous combination! God isn't looking for 'moxie' from us, but he is asking that we face challenges far harder than 'bike chicken' and that we do them with faith and fortitude.

The one that 'manages to stick it out' implies to me that some face life with their only little bit of 'moxie', but when the challenges become too much to handle, that moxie doesn't carry them through. I don't want us to miss a few things within this passage, so indulge me while I break them down for us this morning:

- You don't invite a challenge - you meet it in your path. It isn't always a 'welcomed' or 'planned for' guest in our lives. In most cases, it just jumps out in front of us and we either veer off-course to avoid it, or we face it head-on. I have had elk, moose, and even deer bound across the road as I have been driving along. I avoided all of them due to both defensive driving techniques and sheer dumb luck! I have also had jack-rabbits and mourning doves dart out in front of the car, so close that I have been unable to divert my grill from their flight or my tires from their speedy attempt to cross to the other side. It is a sickening feeling to hit something 'head-on', but sometimes there is no other course for us to take. Any other course would put us in dangerous places - in line with oncoming traffic, off into a field, or into the unsuspecting fellow driver's side panel. We didn't invite the challenge, but we were faced with it. It met us right where we were - we didn't have to seek it out. Life is full of challenges that just 'dart out' at us. Some we will deftly maneuver to escape - others we clearly have no other alternative than to face them head-on. Some we will do well to get through unscathed, others will leave us feeling a little saddened by the outcome. Stick with it - have the faith to trust God with the outcome - even when you are a little saddened by it.

- Sticking it out isn't in our own effort (moxie) - it is made easier because of our intense love for Jesus and his even more intense love for us. Our boldness isn't based in us - it is based in the work of Christ within us. What makes us 'dauntless' in the challenge? It isn't our own mental determination - thinking a certain way doesn't make it any easier to avoid the flight of the mourning dove into your grill! It isn't our own physical strength or stamina - not every battle is won on sheer might alone. I think God wants us to here clearly there is a basis in our 'moxie' that goes way beyond what we can 'muster' or 'maintain' on our own. It is his strength within us that gives us the 'moxie' that helps us make it to the other side of that challenge. What gives us 'spiritual moxie' for the challenges we face? I believe it is our desire to keep Christ first in the midst of everything else that seeks to move him to the back places in our lives. Some call this loyalty - I call it being 'right-focused'. Get Christ in the right place in your life and the challenges will still come, but you will face them with a 'spiritual moxie' that far outweighs the things coming at you 'head-on'. Just sayin!

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