Some days are hard, scary even and they can certainly be overwhelming. It’s on days like these that we need to put our big girl pants on and be brave. But it is not something that we need to do alone or are even expected to do alone. God is in control and He is always by our side, ready to give us strength. Today might be hard but it is not the end of our story. Trust that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives that He will outwork. Know that He provides grace and strength for that which is in front of us.
“At the very moment I called out to you, you answered me! You strengthened me deep within my soul and breathed fresh courage into me.”
(Psalm 138:3 Passion Translation)
Humbled. Challenged. Impacted. Undone.
That’s what I felt as I watched my eldest child in his School Book Parade this week. An infinite number of choices. From Geronimo Stilton to the Cat in the Hat, Ninjas and Minecraft. My son, well he chose to go as Moses. His favourite person in the Bible. And so in amongst the Tintins and Hobbits, Pirates and Superheroes, was a happy boy dressed as his hero – Moses – Prince of Egypt. Holding a staff and carrying his Bible proudly. He loved telling other children who he was. Was he Jesus they asked? No, Moses and so he told them, in his class and at lunchtime, the story of Moses who parted the sea.
For my 8year old, sharing his faith is as natural to him as breathing. He wants his friends to know God. He is confident in sharing his faith. He sees a rainbow on the way home from school and so shares with his friend about Noah, an ark and the promise of God.
So yes I am challenged – I’m much more hesitant to make the most of opportunities to share my faith. Yet I remember at the same age as my son is now, a homework assignment on a favourite hero. And in amongst the myriad of options I had from Famous Kings and Queens to Explorers and Authors, I chose Jesus – King of Kings. I remember my mother helping me with the Cover Page and the drawing of a crown. And I remember the excitement and pride I had in my choice of hero.
May my son never lose his confidence in sharing his faith. May he continue to be brave. May he always be delighted in opportunities to share about God.
And may I be as brave and confident as my son – as brave as I once was.
I had rattlesnake for dinner the other night. Rattlesnake and cactus “fries” to be exact. I was as brave and daring as Bear Grylls. True, mine was served on a dinner plate in a restaurant and I hadn’t had to kill the thing or eat it raw. It came fried and properly cooked. I was still brave though, especially given none of my fellow colleagues (including the locals!) were game enough to order the same and were just as excited to take photos of the dinner and me eating it as I was!
Actually, when it comes to food, I’m always up for a challenge. I’ve eaten snails, crocodile, Egyptian pigeon, an entire raw onion to name a few. As I child I even took to eating the occasional weed! No I wasn’t starved as a child, I just liked the tanginess of it! As it turns out eating weeds is a forgotten art currently undergoing a renaissance in French cuisine, so I may have just been ahead of my time.
So yes I am rather brave and daring when it comes to trying new food. Going to the dentist, having the flu injection and finding a spider is an entirely different matter. Petrified, fearful are definitely apt descriptions of how I feel when confronted with those. Feeling fear is normal however, an expected part of life. The challenge is do we live a life constrained by our fears? Do our fears become limits on what we experience? More importantly do we let our fears over ride the call of God on our lives and prevent us from walking into the fullness of the life that God has purposed us for?
I am reassured by how many times in the Bible God said “do not be afraid”, or “fear not”. I’m definitely not alone in feeling fear and am rather good company – Joshua, Gideon and Moses all had God encourage them not to be afraid. The key though, is that each time with the reassurance from God to not be afraid, the person had to walk through that which had scared or intimidated them. Action was required. They had to push through their fear. As much as I can’t ignore the need to go to the Dentist (eek!) I must respond to the call of God on my life and even though I am afraid, I must push past the feeling of fear and embrace what God has for me.
What is God telling you to not be afraid of? What is He asking you to do? Time to get your Bear Grylls on and be brave.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Fearless – showing a lack of fear
Fearless – bold, courageous, daring, plucky. That was definitely me this weekend, Exploring the sights of Rotorua we did the big splash (as in sitting in a boat while it plunges into the water at great speed!). Not one for heights or hurtling at great speed towards earth it was not my cup of tea. I choose the word fearless here as I know inside I was definitely petrified, I was just not showing it. Given I was sitting beside my 6 year old son, I felt it was important for him to not see me freaking out (this time anyway, with spiders he still gets to witness that!)
What I have decided though is feeling fear is very normal and it’s when we push through the fear (of whatever it is) that we then get to say we’re bold and plucky, daring and dynamic, confident and brave.
“Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.” (Bear Grylls)
The thing with fear is that it can be pretty insidious and if we are not careful it can control our lives. Fear of failure can keep us from going for that promotion that we know we would love. Fear of rejection can have us exhausting ourselves as we try to keep everyone’s approval. Fear of change can keep us within the confines of our nice lives, but mean we miss out on the opportunities and adventure on the other side.
Sometimes we need a little more help than just gritted teeth and sheer determination to overcome our fear. What we need is Jesus, for perfect love drives out fear. Perfect love trumps fear – EVERY TIME! A fearless life is a life lived with confidence in Jesus and not ruled by our fears.
It was one of those passing comments on a documentary that I was only half watching that totally gripped me. A documentary following people with extreme stutters receiving training to help them. One teenager, barely able to say his name, typed this on his computer to communicate why he was there – “If I could speak fluently then I could show people who I really am.”
Behind the obvious stutter, was a boy crying out to be seen for who he really is. To not be defined by his stutter. I wanted to leap through the television screen and give him a hug and say well done you brave boy! So often we are defined, boxed, judged by appearance, education, where we live – good or bad. Throw away comments by people can leave us crushed, hurt, vulnerable. What we face can negatively impact our life, our decisions, our dreams.
Our challenge is to not let the “if” in our lives rule our lives. To not let it hold us back, define us, and more importantly shut us down. In the Bible we read of people who did not let their “if” stop them. The woman who had an issue with bleeding pushed past people to encounter Jesus. Zacchaeus – much hated tax collector still climbed a tree and yelled for Jesus attention.
Watching this boy and the others along with him I saw bravery, overcomers and growing confidence. They, as one of the students said, “felt the fear but did it anyway” and “found their voice.” They refused to be defined by their “if”.
They were brave.
Today I took my 6 year old son to the dentist. As we walked towards the clinic, a little hand slipped into mine and a voice whispered “I am scared”. I reassured my little chap and squeezed his hand in encouragement. I told him to be brave and in we went. He chatted happily to the Dentist about all sorts of things, he laughed at the glasses he had to wear. And soon enough he was sitting in the dentist chair as the dentist first checked and then cleaned his teeth. I quite decided he was no longer scared, and then I saw his hands. Two little hands tightly clenched. Two hands that remained so, until the Dentist was finished. My son was doing this afraid – he was doing this brave!
Bravery is great courage: courage in the face of danger, difficulty or pain.
Bravery means tightly clenching your hands while you do what you’re scared to do, yet must do. It means willingly climbing into that dentist chair or stepping onto the stage, or going for that job, or sharing that dream. It means ignoring the voice that tells you to run, or that you’re not good enough. It means listening to what God says and taking courage that He is there with you.
“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Nelson Mandela said this “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Sometimes we just have to do it afraid, and by doing it afraid, we’re doing it brave.
“Reach high, for the stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
Do you have a dream inside of you? A dream that has not yet taken flight? Is it time to step out of the boat and pursue it? Is it time to be brave?
I don’t know if the Apostle Peter ever dreamt of walking on water, but he certainly leapt at the chance to get out of the boat and try…In the middle of the Sea of Gailee no less. In a storm! It was definitely a “sink or swim…(or walk on water) moment!” I probably would have tried on the waters edge…on a sunny day…when it was calm. And I certainly would have tried when there was no one watching. Peter did it front of his mates, the other Disciples – witnesses to his success or failure. (As it turned out a bit of both!)
But sometimes that is what being brave means. It means not waiting for the perfect conditions or time. It means not caring what others might think of your “impossible” attempt. It means hearing the voice of the Lord, obeying and stepping out of the boat when He says come.
Don’t give in and settle for someone else’s agenda for your life. Keep God first and listen to what He has called you to do. There are other voices calling you to other things. There will be voices calling you to stay in the boat. Or even voices that say you are foolish and won’t succeed. There are other opportunities. And sometimes the easiest option will be to walk away or ignore that dream in your heart.
But dare to dream! It’s your job to give your dream a presence and voice in your life. Keep the dream in front of you. It is your job to give light to the dream through action.
“This is your life. Be bold with it. Live it with energy and purpose in the direction that excites you. Listen to your heart, look for your dreams: they are God inspired.” (Bear Grylls)