1 CHRONICLES 28:20
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a novel of a boy and his father’s search for habitable earth in a cold and dying world, was one of the hardest books I’ve ever read. The hope is dim and often the darkest version of existential. But in it, as they walk the road together, the father paves the way for his son’s survival:
“You have to carry the fire.”
“I don’t know how to.”
“Yes, you do.”
Is the fire real?
“The fire? Yes, it is.”
“Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
“Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”
Hope burns brighter in the boy. The father knows this. He knows that sometimes, bravery means hoping that someone else’s dreams will succeed even as you face the quiet deaths of your own.
David was a great warrior. He built his bravery early, fighting off wolves from sheep and Goliath from his people and then Saul from himself. But, when it came time to build a temple in dedication to his God, he was not the man for the job.
Because David had shed bled, both guilty and innocent, he could not build a thing so sacred and vital as the temple. And he knew this and so he passed the job on to his son with great ceremony and faith that God would put it into action. But I am sure he sang a few dirges on his way. I am sure that was a hard dream to watch flicker out in his own life even as it caught flame in his son’s.
Sometimes being brave is passing on the torch. Sometimes it is being hopeful for other people instead of yourself. It might be the bravest thing I can think of to genuinely wish for someone else’s success in the face of your own disappointments.
We sing, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” and talk about the faith we hold and wish that others could hold as well. Our job is to hold up the fire so that God’s grace illuminates the souls around us.
I tell my kids to be brave all the time…when they get the flu shot, when they try cilantro for the first time, when they walk into a room of unfamiliar kids. But I also want them to be brave enough to wish for the good things for all the people that walk through their lives even when the road they walk is rough.
And of course, when we cannot, when we lose heart, get bitter, get angry, get tired, that is what Jesus is for. He died so our flames could stay lit. He could have been a glorious superhero and razed mountains and emptied oceans and re-made the world without us. But He died and so our light continues. With that view, it seems only right that we carry on.
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A big thank you from Jamie on The Mom Gene!