The Heart of a Lion

Rachel, all this:’s not me...inside, I am...I am more...”
”Bruce...It’s not who you are underneath: its what you do that defines you.”
— From the film Batman Begins

Bruce: "Rachel, all this: it''s not me...inside, I am...I am more..."

Rachel: "Bruce...It's not who you are underneath: it's what you do that defines you." (- Batman Begins)

The high and holy distinctive of the lives of those who set out to walk in the Ways of the Warrior is that their devotion to the Christ is marked by decisive Kingdom action rather than merely by orthodox thinking. Yes, orthodoxy (right/correct belief) must be the foundation from which all truly good action springs. Without it we may be full of wind and vinegar and perform all manner of mighty feats...but at best they will be performed for the kingdoms of this earth. The greatest warrior, if acting under the impetus of false beliefs, may become a danger to those whom he ought to protect - becoming more a Horror than a Hero. Right belief is paramount.

Nor do we advocate that all-too-familiar reversal of priorities that would turn us into "human doings" as opposed to "human beings". Close on the heels of Right Belief must come our commitment to the spiritual life - the inner man - above and before all things. It is increasingly popular in Christian circles to refer to this aspect ourselves as "the contemplative life"...which even while trying to encourage it, somehow marginalizes it as merely an option for those who have the time or inclination to pursue habits of contemplation. Often you are left feeling the same way that you do when considering a health club membership: of course it would be a wise and healthy decision, but life will go on whether you get in better shape or not. Popularizing this title, "the contemplative life", is perhaps one of the great errors of the Church in our culture today.

The inner life of the Christian, the sweet (or agonizing) hours alone with his Maker and Master - this is to be the least "negotiable" thing in all of life. It is not merely a good idea, a healthy alternative for well-rounded living...

...This IS Life.

You and God. That's the main point of the story. Miss that, and well, you've missed just about everything that ever really mattered.

So the Mighty Man of God must begin with Right Belief - knowing what he is fighting for and what he is fighting about - and he must also know that the Battle is never more important than the Romance - that the Lover of our souls longs for us to walk in daily increasing intimacy with Him, and will continue to desire so, long after the Last Battle has been fought and every foe defeated.

But after all of this right foundation and proper prioritizing, there has to come a moment when the young hero, the "stem of that victorious stock", must spring into physical action and begin to make courageous choices. There comes a point when your realize that the vast chasm between who you imagine yourself to be in Christ (a son or daughter of the King empowered to advance His Kingdom with authority) and how you present yourself to the world (nobody important, really) must be bridged...or become little more than a fantasy. It is that moment when you realize that your claims of total surrender and availability to God that you have sworn to on your knees at sunrise simply don't seem to be playing themselves out throughout the rest of the day...that moment when you realize that you really couldn't intend any better than you do, but each day ends so far short of the glory you had envisioned...that moment when you know that "who you are on underneath" is never going to be enough, because it is "what you do that defines you".

This chasm between who we want to believe that we are and how we are actually impacting the world is a chasm that can only be bridge by Courage. How highly have you been valuing courage in your life? Look back on some of the recent moments when you did not say what needed to be said, did not tell someone a painful truth (about yourself or about them), did not stop to help a stranded motorist, did not strike up a conversation with the stranger in line next to you, did not offer to pray for the child in a wheelchair you just passed in the mall...

...what was your heart's true desire in those moments?

You really wanted to break out, to lose your inhibitions, to do the right, the kind, the heroic thing...didn't you?

So what stopped you?

A lack of Courage. Also popularized, especially among men (thank you, Adam), as Passivity.

 It is the curse that haunts us all to one degree or another - the Enemy's favorite tool for keeping us down even after our hearts have been restored and circumcised unto God, even after our desires have been made holy. We desire; but we do not act. And in the end we are perhaps worse off than before, because who can live in the daily shame of their own cowardice? Who can live two separate lives and not be broken, not be driven mad by the inconsistency, the confusion, the failure to be Whole?

But where shall I find courage?” asked Frodo. “This is what I chiefly need.”
Courage is found in unlikely places,” said Gildor. “Be of good hope!”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Yes, Courage is what we chiefly need. And where shall we find it? We can begin by bringing it out of the murky landscape and putting it into focus, by making it a part of our daily awareness. Do you journal already? Why not try keeping a "courage journal"? Look for that moment that comes to you each day when a choice lies before you, and you sense that one option feels easy and natural, and the other option feels awkward, difficult, scary.

Rather than simply letting your instincts take you towards safety and comfort, try turning into the scary choice - if for no other reason than the training of your courage.

Look back at the end of each day and ask: did I do one single thing today that required courage to do, or did I just do what came naturally and comfortably? (At the beginning, if you're anything like us, you'll be surprised that most days don't contain a single act of deliberate courage).

Train your Courage. It is one of the cardinal virtues of a life dedicated to the Warrior's Path. For the lack of it we have missed so many chances to fight God's battles and to share God's love.

Don't let it hold you back any longer.

Pursuing the heart of a Lion,

Derrick and David