I wasn’t planning on kicking off the YOU MAKE BOLD series with a post of my own, but here goes…
Maybe bold isn’t always what we think it is…
I changed things up for this month’s Listen When He Speaks theme, inspired by the theme of this year’s Central New York Wesleyan Women’s Ladies Retreat. This year we’re focusing on the boldness and strength only God can give.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.
Psalm 138:3, NKJV
I’ve been attending Ladies Retreat for a while now. I’ve only missed one of the last thirteen. It hasn’t always been easy to get there but it’s always been worth it. It’s on a campground, so the accommodations aren’t what some women would consider retreat-worthy, but years go by and more buildings get updated… and I have a camper there now, so, for me, who can’t sleep in a room with others, it’s much easier. I’m even on the committee this year. I organize the prayer walk.
My first year, it was after dark and pouring rain when I got there late. Chambers Camp didn’t yet have the cement pad the tent now sits on; I didn’t have boots. I shared a room with four women I didn’t know well, with four other women from our church in the adjoining room. I survived. I suspected I was pregnant with my second child, but didn’t know for sure until a positive pregnancy test after I got home.
The next year, I took my tiny still-nursing baby boy.
When Retreat 2006 rolled around, I was far less than bold. At least in any way God would make me. Brazen maybe, in hidden moments I let steal my strength to do what I knew was right.
I’d been married to my husband for six years, thought I was in love with another man, and was in lust with a third. I was desperately, angrily stumbling toward a second affair, glancing over my shoulder to see if my husband, the man I thought loved me but knew we shouldn’t be together, my friends, or God noticed I was aching to destroy my life and prove I was not worth loving? Would anyone even care?
I felt utterly alone.
Sometimes bold is sitting still long enough to let God examine your heart and show you what you don’t want to see there.
Women chatted and laughed as they left the tent in sisterly pairs and small groups. But I sat on. I tried to stay in the place God used the speaker to lead me, with my heart open to sunlight and a cleansing breeze.
Purity gives peace. Holiness makes one whole.
Sometimes bold is obeying a nudge from God to approach someone sitting solitary.
A friend broke away from the other ladies from our church and sat down in the metal chair beside mine. She knew I needed prayer. She thought it was for my pain from a back injury. She showed up because she knew she should.
Her concern broke through my reserve.
Sometimes bold is confession.
It’s admitting the ugly despite the risk of judgement, rejection, distrust. It’s saying the words you can’t go back from, the words that will forever change how someone sees you.
The words that lay bare the sin you cherish, and may be the beginning of its end.
Bold can look ugly.
It can seem small in the shadow of Joshua’s march into the Promise Land full of enemies, Deborah’s leadership, David’s stand before Goliath, Esther’s approach to a king who held the power of life and death.
Bold isn’t always Jeremiah’s commitment to call out God’s people straying from God’s Truth, or Paul’s unwavering commitment to preach the Gospel.
Sometimes the one we stand up to is our self. It was me I needed to boldly speak Truth to.
Sometimes bold is running away.
My pastor recently said there are some temptations that can’t be resisted. At first, this may seem wrong. Of course we can stand up to any temptation that comes our way! Scripture says so, right?!?
But his point was this: Some temptations must simply be fled. To stay is to give in.
Joseph was not a coward when he ran from Potiphar’s wife, and he ran so forcefully he left his outer garment in her hands.
Sometimes bold is not showing up.
I was responsible to stay off paths that could lead only to destruction, to not dance so close to the edge that sooner or later I couldn’t help but fall. It was up to me to run if temptation came to me.
The battle I needed to stand and fight was inside me. I had to go on the offensive to replace lies with Truth, and turn from deceitful fantasy to the ugly beauty of reality.
Sometimes bold is accepting grace.
I loved my sin. I hated myself. I knew I didn’t deserve forgiveness, but I went home in the embrace of grace, committed to moment-by-moment obedience.
I entered a beautiful season of the peace and confidence of submission.
Bold recognizes the enemy, and fights in God’s strength.
Turning our back on God’s Truth is turning our back on joy. C.S. Lewis would say that it’s choosing hell over heaven. But how could he say that living in joy is living in reality? Read how in Joy, Reality, and Living a Lie.