I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)
Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT)
When I was younger, I wasn’t brave at all. I remember a time when my childhood best friend and I walked home from church alone (I lived in the house next door to the church). I was 8 or 9 years old and my friend was about a year older. Within a few minutes of arriving home, the telephone rang and a long-distance operator asked me if my parents were home. I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t want to tell her that my friend and I were there alone. She started asking more questions and I became frightened. My friend reminded me that we didn’t need to be afraid because God was with us. She knew just the right words to make me a little bit braver. And it turned out that I really didn’t need to be fearful—my grandparents were calling to wish me a happy birthday.
As a teenager and young adult, I was extremely shy and introverted. I was afraid to go places where I wouldn’t know very many people, and I was hesitant to try anything new. I didn’t go to church camp, and I rarely went away with my youth group—even for a weekend. Because I wasn’t very brave, I missed out on some great opportunities to connect with people, make new friends, and experience some adventures. Another friend (who is still my best friend today) worked hard at pulling me out of my shell. God knew just the right person to put in my life at a time when I was insecure and needed a strong friendship. We studied the Bible together, worshiped together, talked, laughed, and cried together. As we grew in faith together, she helped me take some steps toward becoming a little bit braver.
When I look back at my life, I can see how God has always been at work helping me become brave enough to be the person He created me to be. The experiences I have had; and the people I have worked with, played with, worshiped with, studied with, and done life with; have all worked together to shape me into a braver person.
- I married a man who loves and values me, and he has helped me recognize my worth as a person.
- I took a Disciple Bible Study class that led me toward becoming a Bible Study teacher.
- I have been blessed with many wonderful women in my life (family and friends) who have helped me become a stronger and braver woman.
- I homeschooled my children, and gained confidence as a teacher and mentor.
- I owned a business where I worked primarily with women, and that, indirectly, led me into women’s ministry.
- I have had opportunities to teach and speak to small groups of people, which gave me the courage I needed to speak to larger groups of people. I have even preached a few times at church.
I have come so far from the scared child and shy teenager that I once was. I am more confident and more courageous, and I am sometimes willing to try new things. But I still have a long way to go. I know that I have not yet become the person God designed me to be. I still hesitate when faced with something new. I am often fearful when faced with an unwanted circumstance or difficulty in life. I worry that I am not good enough to follow God’s call. I know I am not fully using the gifts and abilities God gave me. And I am not brave enough to completely surrender my will to His.
Scripture tells us that God wants us to be courageous in our lives and in our faith. He wants us to use the gifts He has given us. God wants us to be faith-filled leaders to the people in our circle of influence. He reminds us that He has given us the instructions we need, if we will look for them in His Word. And God also reminds us that He will be with us wherever we go.
How about you? Are you already brave? Or are you, like me, continually in the process of becoming brave?
Be blessed and be brave!
Note: If you are young enough to not know what a long-distance operator is, maybe an older friend can explain that part of my post.