Courage in the Face of Prosperity
About the Guest
What would you do if you had more courage? Barbara Rainey talks openly about the fears she faced as a young wife and mother, and how she found the courage to face, and eventually overcome, her fears.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
What would you do if you had more courage?
Courage in the Face of Prosperity
Bob: One of our assignments as moms and dads is to build strong character into our children, to teach them character qualities. But Barbara Rainey says that’s not happening today as it ought to be.
Barbara: Families are so busy providing for their kids and taking them to lessons and all of the activity that swirls around a family when you’re raising children. Yes, you know that your kid has some issues at school that might require some courage, but I don’t think moms and dads are talking about the need to teach their children to be courageous in the midst of daily life. I don’t think it’s on their radar screen.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about a very practical way you can get the character quality of courage back up on the radar screen.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I stepped in when I shouldn’t have. You were getting to introduce your wife to our listeners.
Dennis: Oh, you just gave away the punch line!
Bob: I gave away the punch line?
Dennis: Yeah! I was going to introduce her but I wasn’t going to tell the audience who she was. I was just going to introduce her.
Bob: Okay. Let’s go. . .
Dennis: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Let’s go back.
Bob: Pretend you don’t know who we’re introducing.
Dennis: Pretend? It’s my wife.
Bob: Shhh! But pretend you don’t know. Here’s Dennis with . . . Do you want to introduce our guest today?
Dennis: People wonder if these programs are scripted.
Bob: Obviously not. (Laughter) It’s pretty obvious. So, would you like to introduce our guest today?
Dennis: Yes. Barbara, welcome to the broadcast.
Bob: That was a spectacular introduction, just as you promised.
Dennis: Wasn’t that good? My wife of 38 years.
Barbara: That’s right. It’s hard to believe.
Dennis: Six children, five of them married. One of them two-thirds ready to be married.
Bob: Two-thirds ready?
Dennis: Her and the preacher.
Bob: Yes. Accepting applications? (Laughter)
Dennis: And we have 16 grandchildren. I mean, hello. When God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, we took him literally on that.
Bob: You thought it was all on you, didn’t you?
Dennis: We are doing our part. We are doing our part, and we have one more on the way, by the way. You know, as I introduce Barbara, though, I want to read a passage that she uses to begin her devotional on courage that she has written. It’s from Joshua 1:9 and I want you just to comment, sweetheart, about why you began your devotional with this. I think it’s pretty clear, but I want you to explain it.
“Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Bob: And that’s not the first time God says that in the book of Joshua, is it?
Barbara: No, it’s not.
Bob: There’s this courage, courage, courage theme all the way through chapter one.
Barbara: All the way through. Well, the reason that I started with that verse is two-fold. One is any time we are in a difficult situation that requires us as an individual or as a family collectively to do something that is somewhat risky or difficult, to take a courageous stand, we’re going to feel those things. We’re going to feel fearful. There’s going to be some anxiety level within that says, “Oh, I don’t know if I really want to do this. Maybe I shouldn’t stick my neck out.” Or we’re going to be dismayed by the crowd who seem to be against us because we feel like we’re the only one.
So we’re going to feel those two emotions: we’re going to feel fear and we’re going to feel dismay. But what I love about this verse that I think is the key to being courageous is that God says “I want you to be courageous because I am with you.” So what God is telling us is that “In any and all of these difficult situations that you will encounter in your life, just remember, I am with you. No matter where you are, no matter how big it is, how hard it is, how difficult, even if somebody’s got a gun pointed to your head, I am still with you. I haven’t left you, I’m not going to leave you, and so therefore you can be courageous.”
Bob: Well, in the context of Joshua 1, this is one of the times when you need some courage because the task was pretty daunting.
Barbara: It was huge. He was having to lead the nation of Israel across the Jordan and take the Promised Land. He wasn’t real sure he could do it; because he had been following Moses, the great one, so to speak, for so long, and I’m sure he felt like “who am I? How can I possibly do this?”
Bob: And there were spies who had gone in and they said the obstacles are big.
Dennis: There are giants in the land.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: There are giants in this land, too, and a lot of people cave in to the giants. I wanted to ask Barbara a question, because I know the answer to this. Did you struggle with fear as a new wife and a new mom?
Barbara: Lots of it. I struggled with fear as a new wife wondering if I would be able to live up to that calling. I felt insecure because I’d never done it before, obviously. I was afraid that I would fail or make too many mistakes, or that life would really get difficult and that maybe you might wake up one day and go, “Oh my gosh, what did I do?” And I think a lot of new wives fear that, because you wonder, “Okay, does he love me because he has to, or because he really does love me still?” So I had all of those in the wife category.
In the mom category, the very first fears were, “Is this child going to die in its sleep?” because every new mom worries for the first six to 12 months if your child is going to stop breathing. So you start out with those sort of life and death kinds of things, and then it just mushrooms into a million issues of friendships, Will they make good enough grades? Are people going to like them? Will he make the team? Will she get rejected? Will they survive high school? Will they ever find someone to marry? Will they find a good job? It just goes on forever. So there are lots of fears. I answered that well, didn’t I? (Laughter)
Bob: Fairly completely. So how did you go about acquiring courage and acting with courage in the face of those fears?
Barbara: Trusting that God knew what he was doing, and reminding myself of the truth of Scripture: that God had called me to this marriage, God had given me these children, he had numbered their days, he knew what was ahead for them. It really ultimately goes back to trusting that God is in control and that he knows what he’s doing, just like Joshua had to do standing there in front of these people he had to go conquer. God called him to do this, and if God called him to do it he was going to enable him to fulfill that calling.
Bob: It’s interesting. I’m thinking about the seven stories that you’ve written about in the devotional guide that you’ve written for families. Again, this is part of a series of devotionals that you’re writing, taking a theme, giving stories that address that theme so that families can soak on a subject like this for a period of time. There is something about reading the stories of courage that inspires, that inflames the heart with courage.
Bob: There is something contagious about courage, isn’t there?
Barbara: That’s right. And the thing that, as I did this, I realized, is I think our children in this culture really need great role models, because the role models that are around are . . . Well, they vary, of course. You can find good role models, but so much of what is presented to our kids today as role models, are pretty lousy.
So I wanted to paint a picture of young men and young women, moms and dads, who did really courageous things, and have that image of that story sort of burned into the kids’ brains, so they’re on the playground one day or they’re at school standing by their locker and some kid comes up and whatever the situation might be, and they remember the story of Sophie, or they remember the story of Katherine, or someone else, and they go, “I can stand up to this. I don’t have to take it. I can stand up for the truth.”
Bob: The story of Katherine. What’s the story of Katherine?
Barbara: Well, there are two Katherines, actually, in one of the stories. But one of the stories of one of the Katherines is a young woman who was a young mom and she was captured by a band of Indians in the early days of our country. I think it was even before the Revolutionary War. It was way back. She and her young daughter, her infant child, were captured by the Indians and taken sort of as hostages, hoping that the white people would come after them and pay a ransom. They were there for I think almost a month with the Indians, living there in this hostage situation. Finally, the Indians decided nobody was going to come, so they didn’t need them anymore. They tied her and her infant daughter to a stake, piled wood around her, and they were going to set her on fire and have a dance.
Barbara: But she stood there on that stake, and she could have, and it would have been very natural and understandable had she started to scream and yell at them, saying “This isn’t fair. You shouldn’t be doing this. You can’t treat me this way.” Any number of things she could have yelled at her captors. But what she chose to do was so remarkable that it saved her life.
She chose to act on her faith, because she was a believer and she knew that God was in control. She knew that he had a plan for her life and for her infant daughter, and that he was God, and this might be the end of her life and it might not be, but she was going to go out believing God and not giving in to her fear. So instead of giving in to her fear, she chose to begin to sing. And she started singing some of the hymns that she knew as a way to comfort herself and to comfort her baby as she stood there strapped to this stake.
The Indians were just fascinated. They had never heard anybody sing like this. So instead of lighting the fire they said, “Sing us another song,” or whatever, so she began to sing another song, and her voice carried throughout the woods. Her husband and the other men who were trying to rescue her and the other hostages heard her singing, knew it had to be her because they were all believers and they all had the same heritage. They knew it wasn’t the Indians singing. And they followed the sound of her voice and rescued her.
But the thing that is so fascinating about this story is not so much that she was rescued, although we love a happy ending, but the fact that she chose to face a really, really hard time with faith. To me, that’s the real crux of the issue, is that we chose to demonstrate faith knowing that God is with me and will not leave me. That is the point that I want families to recognize that’s worth imitating.
Dennis: The thing I like about that story is, I first heard it from Gilbert Beers, I believe is his name. After he finished telling the story (he was a Christian author), he wrote: “Her husband broke out of the woods and rescued Katherine and her daughter, and eight succeeding generations and me! . . .
Barbara: “Including me.”
Dennis: he said with an exclamation point.
Dennis: The point is, he said, was, how we live and how we choose to die can be a gift to future generations. . .
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: that we never see nor ever can speak to. But those messages can be passed down generationally. So dealing with fear, being a person of faith, a person of courage, can impact future generations.
Barbara: Yes. And what a heritage that was for him and for everyone else in that family. To have that as a part of your family heritage would be a wonderful gift.
Bob: Do you think that families today recognize a lack of courage, or do you think they are just kind of lulled into a sense of “we’re just going along with the flow,” and they’re not aware that there’s something missing?
Barbara: My sense would be that they are not aware of a lack of courage, simply because life is comfortable. I think families are so busy providing for their kids and taking them to lessons and all of the activity that swirls around a family when you’re raising children. Yes, you know that your kid has some issues at school that might require some courage, but I don’t think moms and dads are talking about the need to teach their children to be courageous in the midst of daily life. I don’t think it’s on their radar screen.
Bob: Years ago, Dennis, you shared with listeners a story of a dance that you and Barbara were serving as chaperones for.
Barbara: Oh, yes.
Bob: Where you had to evidence some courage. And the interesting thing about it is that it was courage in the face of an intimidating 14-year-old. I mean, you really had to muster up some courage to face down this 14-year-old.
Dennis: Well, I walked into a cafeteria that was darkened and the parents were all sitting over by the light. They were shaking their heads in kind of a negative way, saying “I can’t believe the dance they’re doing over there in the corner.” I said, “What dance?” They said, “Just go watch. Go back over there and watch.” So I walked over in the cafeteria and stood there. Honestly, my hands began to get clammy and I began to become fearful, and I thought “I need to say something to this young man.”
Bob: Did you know these kids?
Dennis: No. I didn’t know them. So I walked over to the guy (tap, tap, tap on table) and kind of tapped him on the shoulder, not quite that hard, and I said, “Hey, knock it off. Knock it off. That’s indecent. “ He goes, “Huh, who are you?” I said, “I’m a dad,” and I looked at the young lady and I said, “You know, you are a young lady. You have dignity. You’re going to be somebody’s wife someday. I wouldn’t allow him to treat you that way.”
It was interesting. I looked over my shoulder, and all of a sudden here was the principal with a flashlight, and he’s tapping people on the shoulder. And then other parents got involved. I think it was Billy Graham who said, “When one person is courageous, the spines of others are stiffened.” In other words, your courage gives other people permission to be courageous.
Truthfully, I did not think of that as being all that courageous at the moment. I remember wondering, “Why in the world would I have clammy hands and be afraid of a pimple-faced 14-year-old boy?”
Bob: You could have taken him.
Dennis: I could have taken him. I could have taken him. We spent the rest of the night, not policing, but just making sure that the kids danced appropriately – line dancing and various other dances that were okay. I’ve reflected back on that many times. It would have been real easy to have done nothing. I think that’s what we are tempted to do a lot of times.
Barbara: And it would have been also easy to say “That’s not my child, so I’m not going to get involved.” I think that’s sometimes where we get tripped up as parents because we are real focused on our own children, and we may not necessarily think about going to the defense of somebody else’s child. In that big group situation, what they did therefore would embolden other kids to do, and somebody needed to step in.
It does make you uncomfortable even if it is a bunch of 14-year-olds, because you have a bunch of parents sitting over here who are watching you. You’re thinking, “What are they thinking about what I’m doing? What if this kid’s parents are sitting over there and they don’t approve?” There are a million thoughts that can run through your head.
Dennis: And you’re afraid also of what your own kids are going to think about you.
Barbara: Well we know what our kids thought about us.
Dennis: At the time they were not all that grateful. But you know what, looking back on it I just kind of break into a sly smile, because I think, “How many young men in that junior high did I send the signal to, ‘stay away from my daughter. Don’t even think about coming near.’”
Barbara and Bob: (Laughter)
Bob: I was also interested in one of the stories that you wrote in your devotional. Here was the thing that was interesting. It was courage in the face of adversity, and the adversity was the adversity of prosperity.
Bob: It just struck me; this story doesn’t sound like anybody who needs to be courageous. He sounds like everything is going fine for him.
Bob: Tell that story.
Barbara: Well, one of the reasons I included that story is because it relates so well to our day, because we do live in a very prosperous country. We are under the assumption that the more money you have, or the more wealth, or the bigger house and the better car and the better school and clothes and on and on and on, the better off you are. We look at it very positively. And yet, this story takes another look at it. He didn’t disdain it and he didn’t walk away from it entirely, because what he did instead was the money he inherited he gave away.
But the story is the story of William Borden. As a young child, as a seven-year-old, he walked to the front of the church, (I believe it was Moody Church, because he grew up in Chicago) and gave his life to Christ as a seven-year-old. You know, so often as parents we see our children make decisions when they are young and we think, “I wonder if that really was serious, or did he really mean it?” But William really meant it, and he continued to follow after that call on his heart his entire life.
He went off to college and made it a point in college to find other young men who believed what he believed, and he started a small Bible study with just a few young men. By the end of his freshman year, or maybe it was part way into his sophomore year, he had hundreds of students coming. So he went to college with a purpose. He graduated from college and went to seminary with a purpose. He had decided sometime in those college years that he wanted to be a missionary. So he went to seminary it was so he could be further trained to be a missionary.
One of the things that I write about in this whole story of William is that one of the hallmarks of a courageous decision is “courage overcomes obstacles.” All of us have obstacles in our lives. Sometimes it’s a physical handicap, sometimes it may be a family obligation that it’s hard to get out of, or whatever. The obstacles are numerous for each one of us that we have to overcome in doing what God has called us to do. Well, for William, one of his big obstacles was his wealth.
Bob: This was a kid who could have just taken a whole wad of money and sailed . . .
Bob: on luxury liners and lived the high life.
Barbara: Partied and all of that for the rest of his life. He was a millionaire when he graduated from high school at 16, because that was what he had inherited. But what I like so much about his story is that he did not let the wealth that he had inherited and the privileged lifestyle of his upbringing hinder him from following Christ. He didn’t let that get in his way. He refused it, used it for good causes, and gave his life for the Kingdom.
Dennis: You know what I like most about the story is there were six words that he wrote in his Bible.
Barbara: And three different times he wrote those words.
Dennis: That’s exactly right. And if you want to find out what those six words are . . .
Dennis: You see, Bob got on to me because I told the rest of the story on one of the other stories.
Bob: You’re not telling today, are you?
Dennis: I’m not telling again.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: You just shamed me. So . . .
Bob: If you want to know the six words, one of them is used three times. Right? One word?
Dennis: That’s right.
Barbara: Yes, that’s correct. That’s correct.
Bob: That’s all I’m going to tell.
Dennis: That’s correct. And some of our listeners already know what those six words are.
Bob: They ought to get the book anyway.
Dennis: They should. I’ll tell you why: because this story needs to be read between husbands and wives. It needs to be read to our children, just to share the story of someone who turned his back on materialism and wealth to go make a difference in people’s lives spiritually, to explain who Jesus Christ is, his forgiveness of sin. He went to the world to do that. You have to get the book to get the rest of the story to find out how he died, because it’s a shocker.
Dennis: It really is a shocker, and yet . . .
Barbara: He fulfilled his purposes.
Dennis: He fulfilled his purpose.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: You know, Acts 13, about verse 36, says “David, after he had served the purposes of God for his generation, he slept.” He died. I think that the challenge for this next generation that we’re raising right now in the midst of probably the greatest affluence any nation has ever seen is “What are you going to live for? Who are you going to live for? What is your purpose? What is your mission?”
You know what? Just that one story needs to be read at every dinner table in America.
Bob: Yes. And you can’t read it tonight because you don’t have a copy of the book. But we can get the book out to you if you’d go online to FamilyLifeToday.com. The title of the book is Growing Together in Courage, brand new from Barbara Rainey. Right now, the only place it’s available is here at FamilyLife Today. So go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy, that’s FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL TODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “Today,” and we’ll make arrangements to have a copy of Barbara’s new book, Growing Together in Courage, sent to you. Again, 1-800-FLTODAY is the number, or online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
This is the month of the year where we start thinking about being grateful and gratitude. One of the things we’re grateful for here at FamilyLife is folks like you who help support this ministry by making a contribution online at FamilyLifeToday.com or by telephone at 1-800-FLTODAY. Those of you who from time to time will call us or go online to make a donation, you keep FamilyLife Today on the air on this station and on our network of stations all across the country. You keep our website up and going. You make it possible to cover the production and syndication costs for this daily program, and we appreciate your financial support and your partnership with us here in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
I just wanted to say thanks and let you know that you are appreciated and we’re grateful for the partnership that we have with you. Any time we can do anything to help you and your family, let us know. That’s what we’re here for. We want to provide practical, biblical help for your marriage and for your family, and see every home become a godly home. So, thanks for helping make that happen by supporting the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Be sure to join us back tomorrow. We’re going to continue talking about courage and how we cultivate courage in our own hearts and in our children’s hearts. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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