By Patti Kelly

A little over a week ago when I went to read my Bible, the pages opened to Judges Chapter 1 so I started reading there.  I read through Judges, Ruth and am still reading 1 Samuel.  It really was more captivating than I remembered (no pun intended) and I knew that God would speak to me through His word, so I just read and waited.

A few days into my reading I met with an old friend and we spent a lot of time getting reacquainted.  She asked about an incident that happened a long time ago and I updated her on some things that had taken place during our time apart.  In the story I was sharing, I had faced an old fear head on!  Some people wouldn’t understand what a personal victory this was for me, but she got it.  At the moment the word brave didn’t come to mind, but a few days later I recognized the bravery it took to face a real fear in my life. 

A couple of days after we talked, while still reading 1 Samuel, I was faced with using my voice to support victims and justice.  I knew it was the right thing to do, but in this situation I would have to be very vulnerable, risk upsetting someone I cared about and respected, and I would be interjecting myself into a discussion that had nothing to do with me.  No one had asked for my opinion or thoughts so I had not been invited in.  But God lay it on my heart that I should say something.  The opportunity was about to present itself and I literally got on my knees and prayed “God please help me be brave!”  That was my prayer.  Please help me be brave – prepare me to speak, prepare their heart to hear, and help me be brave.  I bravely took the opportunity and used my voice and I’m so thankful that God was with me and gave me a small personal victory! 

That night, when I picked up my Bible to continue reading 1 Samuel, I put the pieces together of what God was whispering to me through Judges and Samuel.  When God called the Israelites into battle, He went before them and He was with them.  Often they were outnumbered, the enemy was larger, often more fierce and they had better weapons yet the victory was theirs. God spoke to me saying “I was with the Israelites just as I’m with you!  Go bravely into the battles I’ve called you to fight.”  Don’t you see dear one that the battle is already won!  When God whispers for you to take action in what seems like a battle, the victory is already yours! 

Bravery to me on Monday night was the sum of fear, faith, trust and action.  We often hear “fear not” which is passive and often comes across to me as “don’t worry” or having trust in God in a matter.  Like having faith in a storm removes fear and you just ride it out.  But being called into action, stepping out into deeper water like a child learning to swim, takes faith, trust and bravery!  I read the book “The Gift of Fear” and fear really does protect us by signaling danger.  But we don’t need fear to protect us when we are doing what God calls us to do!    Bravery is taking Godly action in spite of fear and it is done with faith and trust.  Because I trust God and have faith in him, I can take action in the face of fear which makes me brave.  I love algebra so in the formula, because faith and trust are by the Holy Spirit in me, I can substitute and say that the Holy Spirit makes me act bravely when I am afraid! 

I love the New Testament and I started thinking about Peter and the other disciples.  The disciples were ordinary men who were afraid of a storm.  Peter was afraid to admit he was with Jesus.  When Jesus was arrested all of the disciples were afraid and fled.  After his death they were afraid and hid in a room.   The danger was real and the fear was real!  Jesus had just been crucified and they were afraid they would be next!   Then we see these fearful men dramatically changed to being brave in the face of certain tortuous death!  What was the turning point? 

Our resurrected Savior met with the disciples and promised them the Holy Spirit.  God would be with them and in them!  He would be their helper!  The Holy Spirit came upon them and they were changed on the inside!  In 1 Samuel 10:6, Samuel gave Saul a message from God “the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” The Holy Spirit changes us!  Most all of the disciples went forth bravely in faith, even to death, and changed our world!

If you are like me, you think how nice it would be to never be afraid; to never have to struggle with fear.  But take away fear and you take away bravery.  I can confess that I sometimes have irrational fear, so I stop, pray, read God’s word and listen to His voice and my fears are replaced with faith.   But other times the fear is real. 

Dear one, we all have to face fear in our life, some more than others.  God, my strength, my shield, my protector, goes before me and is with me in my battles.  He makes me brave when I face my fears, when I use my voice to stand up for victims, and when I step out in faith going into deeper water where I’m in over my head!  I see bravery in Courtney Smith acting and speaking about bravely in the face of domestic violence.  I see brave missionaries all over the world!  I see bravery in others and yes, He makes me brave!! 

Dear one, I don’t know what battle you are facing today, but I pray that He will make you brave!  That you will know that He has gone before you and He is with you!  That the victory is yours!   He will use all things for your good!  If God is calling you to take action, don’t run and hide but pick of the sword of the Spirit, the full armor of God, and be brave knowing that HE IS WITH YOU and the victory is already won!