adjective: 1. possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance 2. making a fine appearance
verb: 1. to meet or face courageously 2. to defy, challenge or dare. (comes from Latin barbarous meaning “not conforming to classical standards or accepted usage)
God speaks to all of us in different ways: some through music, others dreams, and even others nature. For me though, God drops words or phrases in my mind and then chooses to let that be a theme of my life for a season. Two years ago, He kept reiterating the theme of “Less of you, more of Me.” That was a great year which resulted in a renewed spiritual vitality AND 20 pounds less of me.
However, God’s monograph for me this year is quite different. He whispered it to me powerfully on the day of the radio challenge and it hasn’t let me go. He’s spent the last month making is vividly clear that my focus this year is…..(insert drum roll) BRAVE.
This really isn’t a word I have ever used to describe myself. On the other hand, I’m not really a pansy either. I love a challenge and will often rise to the occasion to conquer it. However, it seems that the last five years of my life have simply been survival. Bravery wasn’t high on my list because there simply wasn’t time for it with a husband, children, a career, and active church involvement. I did what had to be done and left it at that.
While pondering this season’s theme, I began to ask myself a question: What have I done for God that has required me to be brave? Unfortunately, that list didn’t take long to write, and I realized that while living life, I often avoided those things which required my bravery. For example, keeping my mouth shut when I should speak up because it might rock the boat (and if you reverse that scenario you’d have the other times I avoided bravery). Right along with the first question came the second question: If God wants me to be brave, does that mean He’s going to put me in a situation where I have to be? Yikes! I know the answer to that one. If I want to teach my students about poetry, I do a lesson on poetry. If God wants to teach me to be brave, He’s gonna give me a lesson in bravery — a real-life application lesson.
For example, He prescribed some stouthearted behavior from Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18). After God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, there is no recording of him arguing with God or making alternate plans for God. He walked that road of obedience courageously and didn’t look back. Because of this, Abraham saw God do some incredible things, one of which included providing a nick-of-time sacrifice for his son.
I so often questioned, “How could Abraham do that? Sacrifice his own son?” The answer is simple, yet we often miss the beauty of this simple truth: God loves us with a crazy love. Abraham knew God loved him: he understood that love in a way that most of us cannot grasp. 1 John 4:18 says that “Perfect love expels all fear.” God loves us with a perfect love, and when we fathom that truth, there is nothing that we should be afraid to do. If I throughly understood God’s love for me, I could do anything He asked of me and do it BRAVELY.
So in the midst of God calling me to be brave, He has reminded me that his love is perfect: it’s wider and deeper, and higher, and longer than anything I could imagine. Resting in this love means that I understand that He will always — ALWAYS– take care of me. I pray that when the road ahead of me gets scary and I don’t think I can do it, I will remember God’s love– and know there is nothing I cannot do!
Today I pray that “Christ may dwell in you hearts through faith. And I pray that you , being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:7-18) and that you too can be BRAVE.