Barely Brave Enough

Still He kept looking around to see her who had done it.”

Mark 5:32

I wish I behaved a bit more like my Biblical heroes.

And by a bit, I mean a lot. In several ways.

It can be easy to forget that our Biblical heroes ever struggled with God’s directions. That their faith and confidence in God and His ways was born of time tested truths formed through intimate relationship with Him.

That their faith and confidence in God, which sent them into lion’s dens, fiery furnaces and chaotic crowds making bold declarations- did not know it all.

They had no idea what He was doing.

And that was okay.

They would (potentially) be eaten. They would burn. They would be executed.

But they would not bow. They would not worship a false image, or even pretend. And they would not be silent.

From the Old to the New, the Bible tells stories of people facing impossible opposition and seemingly hopeless situations.

And in some of those situations, against varying opponents, Biblical heroes were delivered. Lion’s mouths were closed, furnace flames were unable to singe and prophetic voices were heard.

However, in other situations, deliverance did not look the way the world would view as victorious. Believers were sent to Nero’s circus, Followers were sentenced and executed and Christ was crucified.

All of this to say, I sometimes wonder if I am brave enough to do all the things that could one day be required of me.

… Specifically the things I think I’d most definitely rather not, because our God is all wonderful and great things… however He is not a God who respects human concocted comfort zones…

Anyways, as I sometimes wade the waters of a seemingly life/ identity crisis, such as the one I seem to recently, continuously, be finding myself in- I turn to Him.

In hopes He’ll show me the map while simultaneously thankful that He does not. … Lets face it… I’d probably be terrified.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure it is a glorious plan.

However, often, this world enlists a spirit of distraction- taking my eyes off of His assistance, presence and ability and turning it toward a list of all the ways in which I am undeserving, unqualified and really in contrast to the task- quite useless.

In an act of exasperation or desperation or probably both- I sat down with my Bible one evening- having no idea where to turn.

So in true end of the line style- I just flipped it open and started at the top, praying that one of God’s Biblical heroes might speak to me, that Jesus’ words would meet me.

That they’d tell me to take heart, be of good courage, fearless and uncompromisingly confident.

The Biblical hero I met encountering Jesus though, sounded a lot more like me than… well the others I had been meditating on.

Tucked in Mark 5 I met a woman who had just been barely brave enough.

Barely brave enough to reach for the hem of Jesus’ robe… with a faith so set- so determined- Jesus noticed.

Not only did Jesus notice, He looked for her and then kept looking for her… “Still He kept looking around to see her who had done it.”

He kept looking, to see her.

This woman seemingly so brave and full faith though, did not step forward easily.

But the woman, knowing what had been done for her, though alarmed and frightened and trembling, fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.” Mark 5:33

Alarmed, frightened and trembling.

I would say that her words were probably not eloquent.

Clearly her tone was not steady. And I would bet she stammered and stubbled a bit.

Regardless, she clung to something bigger than she was. She held on to what hope and faith had strengthened her to reach out and touch His hem, knowing that in doing so she’d break the law.

Herself considered culturally “unclean” purposefully touching another, a teacher, one decidedly above her situation.

He could have publicly humiliated her, had her ostracized and punished.

She had no idea what He would do, how He would react- but we can be sure she knew exactly what He could do, how others would react.

That day however, barely brave enough, was more than enough.

She reached out. She told the whole truth. And Jesus restored not only her physical health but spiritual peace.

Her frightened, trembling, truth filled words were met with blessing, restoring and affirming words.

In summary the two things which caught and comforted me, that I wanted to share:

  1. Jesus kept looking, to see her. She was frightened and probably a bit perplexed- she knew what she had done and what had happened… but what next? She had just done something culturally “wrong,” and may have been falling away towards a sense of guilt. Jesus was not looking for her who had done it to accuse her or humiliate her. He was looking for her who had done it to affirm her and assure her.
  2. Moving forward in His direction and according to His purpose frightened, trembling and alarmed- is a viable option. Even if our faith is only barely greater than our opposition, it can move mountains. It will move mountains.

Needless to say, I may not always be as brave as I want to be- but I will always be brave enough.

And so will you Friends.

I pray that at the end of the day our actions and words will mirror those of “her who had done it” – her who had shakily reached out in great faith, her who Jesus kept looking for and her who though frightened was just barely brave enough.

Standing In Confidence: Scars Part II

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23

I am a people pleaser.

I attempt to avoid conflict at all costs and have an innate need or desire to “fix” it, whatever that may entail.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of us would agree that it falls very nicely and neatly into those concepts of “love your neighbor as yourself” and “the greatest shall be the least” and even “laying our lives down for our friends”.

People pleasing. Bible Study 101.

Except, no.

At first glance, the life of Jesus may seem like a “people pleasing” one. Give all the things away, take the detour, love unconditionally…

But when you dig deeper, when you stop for a second and actually take a really good look- you find that he was anything but a people pleaser.

The number of times he single-handedly in a matter of sentences defrauded everything the higher religious powers were preaching at the time is astounding. And while he was continuously compassionate to men and women from every walk of life, he never hesitated to bring up the hard issues and deliver absolute truth in love. And don’t forget the time he literally began to flip tables in the temple out of heartbreak for his father’s home.

No, upon further inspection- Jesus was far from a people pleaser. He was a God-the-Father pleaser. Everything he did, he did as the Father asked him to, no matter where it took him or what it looked like.

Plus- ironically the people around you often fare better when you strive to serve and love them God’s way verses their way.

Over the past few weeks with my graduation coming faster and along with it a new chapter full of first steps, a hundred different comments have filled my head.

Typically they go one of two ways- A “Congratulations” or a “Why?”.

Why…. and fill in the blanks. The way I have chosen to spend my time, my life choices and my future direction along with probably any other miscellanous topic you can think of has come into question.

Followed by a ‘but can you really’ remark.

And of course my answer is, well I really don’t know.

I don’t know how this will all play out. I have a plan, I’m on a path, but the truth is I am not quite sure I have pinpointed the destination. I have taken a few guesses.

Something I do know is that I have completely surrendered my life to His design, and He directs my steps. No matter where it takes me or what it looks like.

Another thing I know, is that I am far from the only one who faces these questions and the inner doubts which knock on the door trying to follow in after them. As I have spoken to others, I have become increasingly aware of the fact you will never make everyone happy.

I realize this is a lesson that has been around for a while. But its as if for the first time I am seeing it in color. Because the truth is, according to some of my friends who were directed to take a different road and made the choices I did not, they get the same questions. Slightly altered. But the same.

And all this, breaks my heart. We all in our own and unique God-given way bear his likeness. We are all created in his image. Yet not one of us is the same. We have been uniquely, lovingly and purposely created and crafted with specific gifts and talents and treasures.

Our mission?

Overcome the fear and the doubt and bravely utilize those gifts and talents to grow and prosper our Father’s kingdom. To use them in a way that invests and inspires the world around us.

No it is not easy. And the enemy will continuously try to tell you that you are doing it wrong.

“That’s not what everyone else does.”

“You are stupid to think you could possibly do this. Why would you even try?”

“Is this really where you thought you’d be in 10 years? Everyone else is so much farther ahead.”

Yup. Fear, doubt, shame.

But if you don’t take the risk, you deny yourself any chance at the ultimate prize. The joy of entering into your Father’s happiness, knowing you took what he gave you and did all you could with it. Even though there was no promise of return. Even though it was risky. Even though it may not have been perfect.

You jumped in full heartedly. Or at least let God push you in. While the enemy is shouting his lies on one side, God is whispering on the other.

I am with you. 

I believe in you.

I am proud of you.

The reality is Jesus is calling you to step out onto the water while others are telling you to not rock the boat.

Another reality is that we have a God who looks at us and sees every weak and hurting part. And He believes in us.

He believes in you.

And that revelation has given me a strength and a hope I had not known. He believes in me, and if my God believes in me, what can I not do? What can I not overcome?

Let’s be a people that celebrates the different unique and glorious callings God has initiated and created in all of us. Let’s be a people who stand by one another- holding each other up when it’s hard and cheering when another has reached a milestone towards their destination.

How beautiful and awe-inspiring it is when we look at our own unexpected road and see the twisting road of other’s journeys and realize it was never needless wandering but purposeful molding. How much love and care was put into His plans for every one of us? He rejoices to see the work begin. Let’s rejoice too- in a God capable of creating and compiling so many beautiful stories.

Don’t bury your treasure- be it gifts, talents, time- from a place of fear but invest it in a way so big it will leave the whole world marveling at such a risk- knowing that victory or failure is not defined by worldly standards but Godly standards. And knowing that regardless of victory or failure according to worldly standards God will meet you with a

“Well done, good and faithful child of mine, I knew you could and I am so proud. Welcome home.”

You may be wondering, “Okay, so what does people pleasing have to do with your graduation cap?” And I am so glad you asked. Let me explain.

Nothing really.

I was just really excited about it. Besides it perfectly summarizes this post:

  1. Let the Lord direct your steps.
  2. Be sure to thank and keep close those who believe in you.
  3. Do not hesitate to seek the Great Perhaps God has in store for you
  4. As followers of Jesus Christ our chapters will ALWAYS end with “To Be Continued…

The song I posted last week Scars by I Am They has a second verse which I felt fit and included below:

“Now I’m standing in confidence
With the strength of Your faithfulness
And I’m not who I was before
No, I don’t have to fear anymore

I am thankful for the Scars”