I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions. I do like making goals, but I hate feeling like a failure when a few days in I’m already back to my bad habits, having broken whatever I had resolved not to do, or do. I am always re-committing to (try) to eat healthy and lose the extra weight that has crept on, especially during the holidays. (Yay for two days of no sugar or bread…so far, so good!)
There is something about a new year, though, that makes us stop and take stock of where we are in life, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. A clean slate, a new start. It’s motivating! How refreshing is this reminder from Jeremiah: The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
So, with the goal of spiritual growth, instead of making a list of resolutions, I’m focusing on something different. I love words, and so the idea of choosing a word for the year is appealing.
My word for 2019 is BOLD.
The dictionary defines “bold” as: not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring; necessitating courage and daring; challenging. These are positive attributes, words we assign to heroes and those who do extraordinary things. Bold can also mean not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; forward; impudent – character traits that are usually seen in a negative light, but can also help us break away from cultural dictates that may be hindering our spiritual growth.
I need a little boldness!
This became very evident to me over the past weekend in a simple way. We spent a few days together with our daughters, sons-in-law and grandbabies. Each evening we pulled out the Rook cards and enjoyed an hour or two of fun. While I know how the game is played and (I think) am GREAT at playing the “partner” hand, I RARELY bid to take control of the game. Unless I had a hand that I knew would easily win, I let others run the game. I was simply not brave enough to risk bidding and losing.
I realize this about myself. I’m bold and confident when I am pretty sure of the outcome, but I’m not a risk-taker. And as a Christ-follower, this can be reflected in more trust in myself and less in God because I do not often find myself in places where I’m “at risk.”
Primarily this shows up in my lack of boldness to talk about Jesus, and this is what I am asking God to change in me this year. I want to be bold and confident, not in myself, but in Him. And I believe this will affect not only my commitment to share my faith, but a lot of other areas in my life. Let’s be real…I’ve already lived more than half of my allotted years, most likely, and I don’t want to get to the end of my life with regrets, having missed out on what God wanted to use me for because I was too afraid.
So, in pursuit of BOLDNESS, I plan to study through the topic in scripture, and hopefully share what I learn throughout the year. I’m starting by researching every instance of the word bold (or boldness). We’ll see where it goes from there.
So, lesson #1 on boldness comes from the first use of the word (in the NASB) in Exodus 14:8:
The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly.
Numbers 33:3 tells the same story:
They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians,
In the KJV, “boldly” is translated as “with a high hand” (two separate words).
High [ruwm] – to be high, be set on high; to be raised, be uplifted, be exalted; to be lifted; rise
Hand [yad] – the (open) hand of man
The Israelites did not leave Egypt secretly. They were in full sight of all the Egyptians, as if with their hands raised indicating, “Here we are! We are leaving!” They did not slink out as though they were doing something wrong. They walked out in broad daylight, while their oppressors were mourning the death of their firstborn sons.
They had every right to go.
They had been given permission by the One True God.
They were led by God’s chosen man (Moses).
Their oppressor (Pharaoh) had finally released them, knowing he was defeated.
What do we see in the Israelites example that applies to our life?
Egypt represents the old life of sin. God rescued us from our oppressor (Satan) and the sin that held us captive. The Israelites celebrated the very first Passover as they killed a lamb and spread its blood over the doorposts and lintels of their homes, to protect them from the angel of death. The blood represented Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who would one day come to give His life for the sins of the world.
The Israelites joyful exodus from Egyptian captivity is a perfect picture of salvation. Jesus comes to lead us out of our old way of life, out of our past, away from the sinful choices and habits that held us. We should go boldly, unafraid, and confident in our Leader. We should not be ashamed to raise our hands in praise to the One who has rescued us. We should live in front of the world (that old life) boldly proclaiming that we are free.
I see two key truths here. First, we need to live boldly, proclaiming that we are free, unashamed that we are Christ-followers. Second, we need to live boldly, knowing we are free. Sometimes the shame of our past makes us timid, or hesitant, as though God was ashamed of our past and just wants to “slide us into the kingdom” secretly because we’ve been such an embarrassment to Him. I don’t think that’s true. If God has truly freed us, truly saved us, then we can live as confidently and boldly as if we had never sinned.
Because isn’t that what God’s grace did?
Didn’t Jesus really take our sins on the cross?
Aren’t we justified, holy, perfect in God’s sight through Christ?
If we are truly forgiven, washed in the blood, then we should live boldly. We belong to the One True God who rescued us, and our past has no hold on us. In fact, just like Pharaoh’s armies who tried to “reclaim” the freed ones, our past is at the bottom of the sea and has no power over us anymore.
So, we can go live boldly. We are free!