I laughed as I hugged a friend at church and the words came out of my mouth: “I think maybe the Lord wants me to be brave.” She was asking me about an upcoming camping trip we’d planned, and I admitted being a little nervous bringing four Collie kiddos (currently 10, 8, 6, and 3) off to sleep in tents and “rough it” a bit, far away from home. 

This wonderful woman of faith I’ve had so much respect for for so many years replied, “I think the Lord is encouraging me to be brave these days, too.” She very recently lost her husband of fifty years, and is now figuring out what life looks like in this season without him.

I think my heart skipped a beat, thinking about what brave looks like for her these days, and it made me stop to think: How many of us is the Lord perhaps asking to be brave? It’s not just me. Maybe, is it all of us?

Perhaps you’ve heard before that there are at least 365 instances where we’re encouraged not to fear, or not to be afraid, throughout the Bible.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” {Joshua 1:9}

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” {Isaiah 41:10}

There’s one beautiful verse for every day of our year that calls us to overcome the things we’re afraid of… and choose brave instead.

I remember everything about this one moment, this moment I returned to the little alley where I’d find the doorway and trudge up the stairs to the first apartment I lived in in Edinburgh. I’d moved to Scotland with heaps of hope and loads of prayer, but there was also a part of me that felt this was a sort of sink-or-swim moment in my journey.

I’d just waved goodbye to my big brother who was headed to the airport. He’d joined me on a flight across the pond, navigated an adventure up to Scotland on a train from London, waited with me in the train station for the wonderful letting agent who was willing to meet a foreigner in a train station and help her find her way home. (Thanks again, David!)

We figured out a bit about finding groceries, we’d worked on navigating the bus system, we’d listened to an absolutely hilarious rendition of “Wonderwall” by enthusiastic karaoke singers in a pub, and we’d donned nearly every stitch of clothing in our suitcases when the gas ran out and the night was cold… in July.

And then he headed to the airport, back to work and life in Atlanta, and the bus brought me back to that little alley with dark walls on both sides and the Scottish summer sun, bright and beaming down from overhead. I stood for a moment thinking about this beginning, this new place, and me, there, flatmates still on the way from other places… me, there to learn to live in a new country and build a new life.

Since then, I’ve learned that sometimes brave looks like taking four kids to the library when you just don’t know if you can keep everyone together and you don’t know how they’ll behave and it would be easier to just stay home. Sometimes brave looks like starting a conversation out of thin air to try to welcome someone new in class, at school, at church, at work. 

Brave can mean going to the gym when you’re overweight and afraid of what other people will think.

Brave can mean choosing not to do what “all the cool kids” are doing after school.

Sometimes brave is saying yes and sometimes brave is saying no.

But in that naïve, Braveheart-inspired moment in that alley in Edinburgh? Brave looked a bit like fighting back tears, knowing I was standing exactly where God wanted me to stand. Brave was taking a deep breath, looking up to let the sun warm my face, choosing to trust, even if I didn’t know all I needed to know to live in this new place. Brave was saying, yes, I can take this one day at a time.

Brave, in that moment, was running. Running down the alley. Flinging open the door. Running up the two dozen stairs to my first flat in my new home.

I ran to say yes. I ran to say I trust you, Lord. I ran to say I’m going to go bravely into this new thing, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’m not walking afraid.

I’m running brave towards what You have in mind for me.

Is God asking you to be brave somewhere in your race at the moment? Is it time for a brave holding on or a brave letting go? Is it time for a brave yes or a brave no?

If you don’t feel sure, lean in close and listen for His whisper: What seems like a yes to being strong and courageous? What seems like a turning away from discouragement and dismay and running toward the life to the full that God came near to give you? What seems a bit like a little more dying to self and a little more bold, brave living in and to and through and for Christ?

I think we all have a place to step out toward more brave, friends. I pray you’ll stop long enough to let the sun warm your face and hear the voice of God saying “Yes. Yes. This is the brave road not taken.” And then? When you know it’s the way? I pray you’ll run brave, arms wide, right into it.



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