I have been working this week on the final touches to the devotional book I am writing for those who attend one of our Being Brave retreats. A six week follow up to the themes we discuss at the retreat, it contains scriptures, discussion and questions for 5 days for each of the 6 weeks. God’s word as revealed in the bible has many wonderful things to say about being brave, so choosing just 30 or 40 scriptures was something of a challenge. With that said, I have had such fun putting it together and look forward to sharing it!
If this theme appeals to you and you are interested in joining us on April 9th, you can find out more information and sign up HERE.
This week, my Friday Five friends are talking about their 5 Favorite Bible Stories. I decided to participate by quickly jotting down the first few favorite stories which came to mind without censuring myself or overthinking. Because I can’t ever seem to follow directions, I came up with 6. Friday Five, plus a bonus! I’m not going to spend a lot of time describing them because I want you to read them for yourself, but here are a few of my all time favorites.
Genesis 16:7-13 This is the story of Hagar. She is Sarai’s servant who gets pregnant with Abram’s baby because Sarai is trying to interfere with God’s timing. God made a promise, Sarai just decides she will “help” God get it done a little more quickly and, of course, it creates a giant mess. I love, love, love the irony of “helping” God (and perhaps can relate a bit,) but my favorite part of the story is Hagar’s name for God when he finds her licking her wounds after she has run away. She calls God El Roi or “the God who sees me.” We all have a deep desire to be known and to be seen-really seen for who we really are. Loving and serving a God who truly sees me is my favorite and it makes me brave. (By the way, El Roi see you too!)
Exodus 17:10-13 This is the story of Moses and his friends, Aaron and Hur. Moses is leading his people in battle against some bad guys and God tells him to stand on a nearby hill to pray for his troops. As long as Moses is holding up his staff, hands raised and eyes toward heaven, his people have the advantage. But arms get heavy when you are holding them up for a long time, so Moses lowers them and his troops start losing. His friends, seeing his need, find a spot on either side of Moses and help him hold up his arms until the battle is through. Holding up their own hands doesn’t work because this is Moses’ battle, but they can stand by his side and support his arms when they grow weary.
I could weep thinking of the times my friends have metaphorically held up my arms so I could keep my eyes on God. For instance, the time I wrote about HERE. Asking for help and allowing others to “hold up your arms” is brave.
Joshua 3 The people of God have been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years waiting to get to the Promised Land. They are finally on the border and ready to receive the inheritance for which they have been yearning, but they have to cross the Jordan River to get there. They can see the Promised Land in the distance, but they have to cross the raging river to enter their new home. God says he will stop the flow of the river, but FIRST they have to get their feet wet. Their deliverance and help will come after they start walking across the roaring river which they fear-not before. Stepping out in faith, believing God will keep his promise, they will receive their miracle. But first, they have to be brave enough to wade into the deep water with no guarantees except their belief in God’s faithfulness. Oooooh, I love this one!
John 13:1-17 I love every story about my brave and kind Jesus, but this one is my favorite. This is the night before he is arrested and the chapter starts with a description of his deep love and tenderness for his little band of followers. He is sad about leaving them and his heart is heavy. In order to show them the depth of his love and set an example for them about how to love others when he is gone, he tenderly washes each of their dirty, smelly, dust-covered feet. He takes off his outer garment, gets on his knees and does the messy, lowly work of a servant. Not only does Jesus love these men in this intimate way, but they allow it. Peter initially resists being put in this vulnerable position, but Jesus insists and Peter obeys. I have participated in a foot washing ceremony at the homeless shelter where I serve and I think the vulnerability of allowing your feet to be washed is almost as moving as the privilege of washing someone else’s feet. The beauty and tenderness of this story completely slays me with the picture of how we are to love one another and the intimacy of how Jesus loves us. Our servant king shows us the path to the Kingdom here and it is lined with humility. Being vulnerable is brave.
Mark 2:1-12 Another Jesus story, but Jesus shares the spotlight in this tale with the devoted friends of a paralyzed man. Jesus is teaching in a house in Capernum and it is packed. The friends of the paralyzed man want to get their friend in front of this well-known healer, but the place is too crowded for them to get in the door. Seeing the traditional avenues are unavailable to them, they decide to get creative. Instead of shrugging their shoulders and lamenting their bad luck on their way home, they come up with Plan B. They climb on the roof with their friend on the stretcher and cut a hole in the thatched roof above Jesus’ head. Lowering their friend through the hole in the roof, they place their loved one at Jesus’ feet. The story goes on to tell us Jesus saw THEIR faith and chose to heal and forgive the paralyzed man. Creativity, dedication, steadfastness, deep love, courage and the power of interceding on behalf of our loved ones. For all of us who want Jesus for those we love, perhaps even more than they want Jesus for themselves, this story reminds us our faith, courage and determination are worth it. Loving sacrificially is bold and brave.
Acts 4:13-31 In this scene, the same guys who had their feet washed by Jesus before his death and resurrection are now filled with the Holy Spirit and amazing the crowds with their passionate, bold teaching. Peter and John know they are in trouble with the religious elite because of their preaching, but they can’t contain their enthusiasm as they talk about the miracles they have seen and the Lord they serve. My favorite verse in this story, verse 13, tells us the religious leaders were amazed by these two unschooled men who had no training in the scriptures. In spite of their lack of teaching, because of their boldness and passion, their listeners could tell Peter and John “had been with Jesus.” Their story reminds me all the fancy knowledge in the world pales in comparison to surrender to the Spirit and time spent in the presence of Jesus. Like Peter and John, I want people to see me being brave and blame it on Jesus.
Read more from my very smart Friday Five sisters HERE.
Now I want to hear YOUR favorite stories from the bible in the comments below!