Be strong and courageous? What does that mean?! I can feel brave and courageous when I’m all by myself, but the instant a challenge comes at me, I slump in fear. Where do I find my brave?
At this moment, I find the goodness of God to be all-consuming. I use this terminology not in an expected churchy way (i.e. I-use-church-terminology–because-I-know-that-it’s-the-proper-answer-to-every-situation-but-I-really-have-no-idea-what-I’m-saying way). Quite the opposite. Living decades repeating Biblical truths like mantras rather than from a place of real understanding has made me sensitive to the use of Biblical terms and verses. At the moment of writing this, I feel weak and a failure. Yet, it is also right now I realize this is good. For so long I’ve been trying to be strong, tough, courageous, brave… but now, as I write this from my knees, understanding fills my heart…I am overwhelmed by His Goodness!
On my mind is pondering how I’ve struggled with being emotionally childish or lacking wisdom for challenging situations. At the moment, I’m praying for mercy to not give in to a certain temptation. I keep repeating, “I walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh”, while at the same criticizing myself for not being stronger and, thus, more mature.
It’s a reflection of the last few weeks. It seems as if the “flaming arrows of the enemy” have been released en mass lately. Yet in moments of anxiety, fear, or fatigue, I hear in my spirit, “Raise your shield”. As I’ve been daily praying the armor of God verses (Ephesians 6) over myself for the last couple of months, I immediately knew what it meant when the thought came to me: The shield is faith.
Faith…an ambiguous concept; hard to grasp in my mind. However, when I’m on my knees, or repeating a verse over and over, praising God instead of meditating on my anxiety – that is faith.
The key to faith is even though I don’t feel like it, at a certain moment of fear or weakness, I speak a prayer of praise and gratitude instead of the anxiety, fear, doubt, etc. swirling in my head.
It is from this vantage point, cowering behind my shield of faith like a child hiding under the covers, that my soul quiets down. My mind stops racing. It’s in this exact type of moment that tonight I suddenly realized I don’t have to be brave or strong or a hero.
I was always invited to hide in His shadow, cower behind His shield, and run to His side. I’m supposed to be weak. I’m supposed to need Him. I’m supposed to cry out and let Him fight for me! And that takes humility to be in such a place. My ego fights to stay off my knees or not run to my Father like a toddler runs to their mommy or daddy.
As I write this previous sentence, I’m reminded of a moment that happened the day before: While at a birthday celebration for a 3-year-old, the party of family and friends were sitting around a campfire. At that moment, all the other guests were engaged in conversation so I was simply observing. My attention was caught by the birthday girl standing with her father at the top of a hill. Her mother walked into the little cabin at the bottom of the hill. I suppose this little girl decided she wanted to be with her mom and started the long walk down the hill on her own. I watched as she went from a bit of trepidation as she slowly moved in the direction of the cabin to a full-on spring in her white dress and blond ponytail flying behind her.
As she got about halfway to the cabin I heard her yell out, “Lord, help me!”. I let out a giggle as I understood her fear AND her cry. As she reached the door of the cabin she cried out for her mother where she found safety in her company.
That’s exactly it. Being brave isn’t standing up in our own resolve and determination; it’s running to hide behind the shield of faith and under the shadow of His wings! Strength and courage are only found standing behind our God!
I’ve found much rest and relief in this revelation but then, for a moment, I thought I might be wrong. After all, there are many, many verses telling us to be strong and courageous! So I looked them up. Here’s the thing—we rarely consider the full message. All those verses are telling me to find my brave in HIS strength, in HIS presence, seeking HIM (God, Adonai, Yahweh, Hashem). Even the verses that I pray every day to put on the armor of God start with this:
It’s in the strength of Adonai that we get our courage and strength. It’s through God’s strength that I put on the armor of God. I can’t believe I’ve been leaving out this verse!
I can be bold and courageous on my own when there’s no drama or challenges. But the instant something hard happens, my strength fails. Now I see that, like my 3-year-old friend, I can run and hide with my God, my Father, and there, in His shadow, under His wings, cowering behind my shield of faith, is where I Find My Brave.
Be sure to check out the verses and thoughts I've gathered regarding FEAR in the "Words of Life" section of this website. Also, Issue No. 6 of PAOLA LANE MAGAZINE addresses fear. Get your copy here.