Scripture for the day: Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
I am a mentor mom for MOPS, and our theme this year is Be You Bravely. This scripture from Isaiah is our Bible text.
Bravery is defined as courageous behavior or character. Some synonyms are courage, valor, nerve, daring, audacity, heroism. Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, pain, evil, whether real or imagined. To me, it is the opposite of bravery.
I read last week that the Bible says “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, etc. 365 times. I don’t have 365 scripture references to back that up, but I know there are many in the Bible. I like the number 365 because that means there is one reference for every day of the year, and I need to be reminded daily.
The Bible says in Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To me this is a good place to start. This requires learning about God and having a reverential awe of Him. Ultimately, we are to exchange our attitudes and will for His.
Fear can be a real hindrance to spiritual growth. Sometimes we are fearful because of previous mistakes, and we get stuck in the past. We become rooted in our failures and are unable or unwilling to move forward. It takes bravery to stop looking in the rearview mirror and start moving ahead in God’s grace.
Sometimes we are literally paralyzed by fear. I remember one such time in my life, and it is still very vivid to me. I was in my teens and was watching TV with my grandfather. Suddenly, I had the feeling that someone was watching us. I got up and went to look out the front door. As I did so, the figure of a man streaked across the porch. At that moment, I was paralyzed by fear. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I just stood there for a few seconds before I was able to alert my family to the potential danger.
Just recently, I went out in our garage early in the morning. I was barefoot at the time and felt something under my foot as I stepped out of the house into the garage. I looked down and realized I was standing on a snake! I was not paralyzed by fear! The next thing I knew I was up in the air between the car and a table, yelling to my husband! Two scary situations. Two very different reactions. I did not exhibit bravery in either situation! But my reactions were completely normal.
I can think of a couple of times in my life when I exhibited bravery. In 1984 I was asked to be director of Vacation Bible School at my church. I felt totally unqualified for the job, but I said yes anyway. The main reason I was hesitant was because I would have to speak in front of everyone on parent’s night. Public speaking almost kept me from accepting a job that brought me so much joy and pleasure. God called me, and He equipped me every year. I am so grateful that I didn’t let fear override my desire to serve.
In 2008 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was too sick to be fearful, and so I raised my fist in anger at the beast. I looked cancer straight in the eye and said “bring it on”. The fight was neither easy nor pleasant, but God was with me all the way. Because it was His will, I survived. I volunteer at a cancer support facility to give hope to those newly diagnosed. I am alive. I can smile. I am the face of hope to those fearful beyond words.
So how can we be brave? Scary situations, evil intentions and calamities are all around us. For me, I embrace Isaiah 41:10-11 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.”
Quite simply, God is with me. He will uphold me, help me, strengthen me. He will enable me to be brave.
Song for the day: “Fear Not for I Have Redeemed You”