Growing up on a central Illinois dairy farm near Decatur, Illinois, I spent more than a little time working before sunrise and long after sundown. As primary caretaker for our ‘flocks and herds’, I frequently worked in the dark to care for the needs of our animals. And as any normal youngster, I often heard things go ‘thump in the night’. In my imagination, an unfamiliar sound could become the thundering hooves of an angry dairy bull bearing down on this little skinny farm kid to turn the place where I was standing into a fight scene or it could become an animal rustler trying to make off with one of my prize cows or it could even become a wolf trying to steal a lamb out of our flock right after he finished me off and got me out of the way.
On our farm, there were places illuminated by pole lights and all the barns had lights. But, many farm venues were marked by darkness that I couldn’t see through but I knew animals could see me in. It was all a little unsettling for a young mind.
So when dad rousted me out of bed at 5 a.m. to go feed and bed down the animals, it took a bit of courage to walk into the darkness and do the job I was given. On more than one occasion I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up accompanied by that uncomfortable feeling that something I didn’t want to meet was watching me work. Over the years I just learned to do the work and gladly welcome dawn and work really fast in an attempt to finish before dark. Now, understand that I’m not looking for delayed sympathy. And I certainly wasn’t a victim. I’d simply like to ask you to think about this.
The little bit of courage I mustered up on the farm to do my chores should not even be compared to REAL courage–the type that helps a man run headlong into enemy fire to retrieve a fallen companion on the battle field or that helps a policeman brave open hostility and gunfire to arrest a criminal in order to protect us or that helps a fireman enter a burning building to rescue a person suffering from smoke inhalation or immobilizing burns. That, and many other acts of selflessness, are true marks of heroic courage.
So I really don’t use the word ‘courage’ to describe my actions. And with all due respect, I do not believe that we should use the word ‘courage’, hallowed by so many acts of real heroism, to describe what Bruce Jenner has done.
Now that I have said that, please let me explain.
In one sense, I do understand how someone might think of his actions as heroic, considering the fact that by this act he has entered a potential suicide pool that is 20 times greater than that of the general public. These types of activities do not leave someone ‘better off’ than they once were. One type of bondage has simply replaced another. And that new entrapment will inflict far more suffering on the participants than the first.
The problem is this. Whenever someone believes that they can improve what God has done in creation, they enter the realm of pride where it is impossible to find someone or something to truly meet your real needs. Granted, you can make choices that give you an immediate sense of ‘power’ or ‘popularity’ or ‘pleasure’. But, that sense of accomplishment is only TEMPORARY. And the sense of disillusionment is staggering that comes one day when you wake up to realize that all you trusted and hoped to make you happy doesn’t.
God was right when He said: ‘There is a way that SEEMS right to a man, but its end is the way of death’. Proverbs 16:25. And that is a word of truth that will never change, regardless of how fanciful our thoughts or how fanatical our insistent efforts are to prove it wrong.
Please understand that my comments are not rooted in criticism, bigotry, hatred or fear. None of us would benefit from that. They simply are rooted in the reality that only Jesus and His ways lead to life and fulfillment. Any other path leads to disappointment and disillusionment. As He said: ‘I have come that they might have life and have it to the full’! John 10:10. By faith, let’s believe that and live.
In the chorus of a familiar hymn, we hear these words: ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand’. (Words adapted from Psalm 40:1-2). TRUST HIM.