Live Brave and Courageous

Joshua 1:9 (HCSB), “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Be Brave. Those are the words I used to think of when I was scared of the dark as a little girl. I used to lay flat on my back in bed and breathe slowly…trying not to over think the sounds coming from the closet or the shadows outside my window. Shivering under my covers, I would repeat those words to myself over and over. Be Brave.

What do you think of when you hear those words? I’m thinking of my two top fears on earth. They aren’t mice or snakes, either. Laugh if you want…but my top two fears are: Public Speaking and Canned Biscuits. Ironically, both I have to wrestle with often. I have been in places where God asks me to speak and present the Word from a stage. I have also had to open lots of canned biscuits in my years…and I still am afraid of it every time. What are your fears?

What does it mean to be brave? Is it super-hero work? Are some people brave and others are just “prone to being afraid”? I don’t think so. The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I realize that’s it’s not enough to know the right answers and study the Bible for hours on end…if we don’t ACT and be doers of the Word. (Matthew 7:24-25) Unless you’re super-human, the acting part is probably the hardest part. That’s where Jesus-Courage comes in. That’s when you need to Be Brave.

Being Brave means:
• Moving with confidence in God’s power. Hebrews 4:16
• Owning your mistakes. Ben Franklin said, “How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.”
• Embracing my weaknesses as opportunity for God’s power. 2 Corinthians 12:9
• Living life with everything in you.

In my personal experience, courage isn’t the absence of fear. My brave moments have been times I’m scared to death and I say YES anyway. Sometimes people look at me and they tell me how brave I am…but inside, I’m a weak wimp. Believe me, I’m not a hero. I’m a wimp that God has called to warrior work. So I say YES, knowing that when He calls me He will come in and rescue me from myself and my fears in the nick of time!

I’ve thrown up right before speaking on stage. I’ve been nauseous before I lead Bible study in my living room. I’ve cried myself to sleep when I have to go the next morning to help my friend who is dying of cancer. All of this isn’t easy for me…but I’ve been called by Jesus to walk this road. It’s tough. It’s hard work. It means having the courage to say YES, even when inside I want to scream and hide under my bed.

Why do I say YES? Not because I think I’m capable…but because I know Jesus is. Being brave is about having Jesus-Courage. Having faith that HE can do what we can’t.

On my bedroom mirror I have a sticky note that says: “Fear is temporary. Regret is forever. Be Brave for Jesus!” This is a message I read every day in hopes that it will sink deeply into my heart and I will learn to live brave.

Live Brave. That’s what I want to do. Live so brave and free that others will see me and know that Jesus has to be real…because this girl? She’s not normally a risk taker. I love my comfort zone. I enjoy being in my cozy corner and not rocking the boat too much. Henry Venn said, “A feeble, nominal Christianity is the great obstacle to the conversion of the world.” I prefer safe living. But Jesus calls us to be bold. Bold as lions! Brave…not because we are super-human, but because we know our weaknesses and choose to lean into Jesus and His strengths. That’s Holy Spirit living, and it turns us into warriors.

The more I study the Word of God and spend time with Jesus, the more I realize that being brave and courageous isn’t limited to a few “super-Christians”. Being brave is how we are all called to live…in different ways, but brave just the same. For me, being brave means public speaking sometimes, or writing a book that is uncomfortable and extremely personal. It also means facing my fears and opening canned biscuits once in a while.

Being brave for you might look totally different. Maybe living courageous for you means starting a home Bible study or witnessing to someone in the grocery store. It could mean reaching out to the new girl at school or volunteering to help a young mom with her children. Sometimes living courageous is hard because no one sees…except God. What if it means praying faithfully for an unsaved family member? Or forgiving someone who has deeply hurt you? Or taking care of someone who is sick or elderly? Or folding laundry at home for your mom? Those unseen things take courage too.

The teenage boy who lives in Africa and works a full time job so he can feed his family of younger siblings? He lives brave.

The single gal who chooses to be content and make the most of her non-marriedness, despite the pressure around her? She lives brave.

The family who drops everything they know to go to a people far across the ocean who have never heard about Jesus? They live brave.

The couple who finds they can’t have children and they still volunteer to teach children’s Sunday School and love the kids around them? They live brave.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be brave. I want to LIVE BRAVE. To love Jesus so radically that I will risk everything to follow Him…even when it’s unpopular or doesn’t make sense. I’ll be the first to admit that these words seem heavy to me. The cost of following Jesus can be painful, but He is worth it! I want the year 2017 to be the Bravest year I’ve ever lived. Don’t you?
If ever we need to rise up and stand firm…it’s today. Our generation needs revival. We need to stand up and realize that Jesus wants ALL of us. Not just our Sundays. He wants all of us. He wants us to radically abandon ourselves to the Jesus that hung on a cross for us! In such a shadow, we can’t help but live brave and courageous for Him. Are you with me?

Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.” (this post originally written for the Polished Cornerstones blog, February 21st, 2017)

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