Yesterday was the second candle lighting for Advent at our church. My boys had been assigned that candle. So, each member of the family contributed. The baby boy (almost eleven) was excited. An eager beaver. He was going to sing, “Seek Ye First” with his dad. As the day approached, anxiety set in. By the eve of the service, he was scared silly. I was sure he would back out.
He didn’t. You could see the fear in his little eyes getting up there in front of others. My older son and I joined them, just to help him get through it. He braved it. And made it.
And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. — Phillippians 1:14
Last night, before bed, he shared with me about just how frightened he really was. He said he had been sick at his stomach all week worrying over it. But on Wednesday at church, the teacher had taught them about boldness. How even when Paul was imprisoned he still spoke boldly for God. And how he inspired others to do the same. He told me he knew he had to do it. So, he kept reading and re-reading this scripture from Phillippians. He highlighted it in his Bible. He prayed every night for the courage to follow through. He even taped the scripture on the inside of his bedroom door to remind himself. He said, “I don’t think I did too bad and I don’t think I did too good. But I know God was proud of me for being bold for him.”
I was amazed. He had not come to me or his dad until the night before to let us know he was shaky. This ten year old little boy, just a babe in Christ, was growing in his relationship with the Savior. He knew he could only draw strength from God.
As the night wore on, I couldn’t get this off my mind. We all have things that shake us to our very core with fear. Fear robs us of so many things in life. Satan does his best to keep that cloud of the unknown, the fear hanging over our heads. If he can keep us there, frozen in fear, we are of no use to God.
Often what we fear the most is following God in the plans He has for us. Trusting Him completely. Our plans, our ways, are much more comfortable. We can control the plans we have for ourselves. When we decide in our hearts and minds, God’s plans are too hard, too uncomfortable, too much for us to handle. We are closing the door for Him to show His power in our lives. We are closing the door on our ability to grow in our relationship with Him.
In my youth group, I see this all the time. Kids are devoted to everything. But God. They can attend functions only if it doesn’t interferre with basketball, football, cheer, FFA, showing animals, band, rodeos, parties, hunting, boyfriends, girlfriends. The list goes on. And they think they are admirable for being devoted to those things. They put their 100% into doing their best, being prepared to the best of their ability for all these things. And they have nothing left for God. They have no time for Him. And they think that’s ok. It’s easy to do. It’s expected. Their teachers, their friends, and even their parents do not expect or encourage them to live boldly for Christ. Making a stand for God is scary. It’s hard. And it’s unexpected.
We adults are no different. Our kids see us putting everything else before God so why shouldn’t they do the same? Serving God, praising God, following God are afterthoughts. Something to do when we have time or feel like it. Do we actually live a life of boldness for Christ? Do we actually face those fears satan plants in our hearts, step out of our comfort zone, and follow Him? Oh, how our lives would be different if we did. Every day. We could change our world.
As I reflect on my own life, I don’t want to say, I chose to live in fear. I chose to follow my own plans for my life. I know better than God.
I want to choose to live boldly for God. And that means putting Him first. Following Him, no matter how scary the path. As I reflect on my relationship with God, I hope to have the boldness of a ten year old boy who could have easily said NO to God. No one would blame him. But instead, he chose God. To follow Him. To be obedient to Him. If you are a Christian, you must be bold. You must step out and do something for God. Stop making excuses. Stop putting it off. Stop putting everything else before God. Stop letting the fear of following Him with all you have keep you stagnant.
It’s time to grow.
The time is now.