"Stir up your might, and come to save us!" - Psalm 80:2
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - Heb 10:31
It's been almost a year since I saw "He Named Me Malala," the excellent documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize laureate and activist for women's education. I took a couple of teenagers to see it, because I wanted us all to know more about the bravest person I could imagine.
We learned how Malala courageously stood up to the Taliban even as they held a gun to her head. We followed as she moved to a new country and completed months of intensive rehabilitation after she was attacked and shot. And watched as, post-rehab, she graciously greeted everyone she met from world leaders to refugee children.
But one seemingly throwaway scene has stuck with me in all the months that have passed since then. Malala is walking down a hallway toward a radio interview when a small dog bounces out of an office to greet her, tail wagging. Malala shrieks a little and hides behind a man in the hall until the dog can be secured back in the office.
Of all the inspiring moments in the film, the scene with the dog was the most encouraging somehow. It's heartening to know that even the very bravest person I can imagine experiences fear sometimes.
Of course, this isn't just true of Malala. We all contain the capacity for both bravery and fear. That is why sometimes we run toward God, and sometimes slink away. That is why we can boldly speak God's name in one setting and not even whisper it in another. That is why we demand that God show Her might one day, and we quiver with fear to realize His power on the next.
Mighty, Awesome One – Thank you for Malala Yousafzai. Help her, and all of us, to find the courage to face what you ask of us each day. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.