Saturday, May 28, 2011

Encouraged to be Brave and Bold for Jesus

Galatians 6:9 reads, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” And yet, that is usually just how I feel… tired of doing what is good; exhausted with trying to make the right choices; done with making the effort above and beyond. What’s the point? I wonder. Is it really worth it? Will it even matter? Does anyone even care?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in myself and want to quit. Quitting is standard these days anyway. People quit on just about everything… from their diet to their family. Why don’t I? It would be easier, wouldn’t it? “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good.” I repeat it to myself. Those words are uttered in attempt to encourage others but when we don’t see the “harvest of blessing” it just feels easier to give up.

That’s why I was thankful for my friend’s message to me the other day. It wasn’t necessary but it was needed. The reminder to persevere and the hope of blessings yet to come were evident. “Listen around minute 12” were his instructions to me referring to the attached MP3 file (11:43-13:15 to be exact). I listened to my friend’s name being referred to and recognized the reference to our friendship.

I met Mike during our freshman year in high school; in Mr. Lapicki’s Biology class to be exact. Mike was talking about a music group and I got excited. “I love DC Talk!” I responded. His look expressed his confusion and cluelessness as to my reference. I felt stupid and he continued his conversation with his friends about the group, ZZ Top.

When I think of our friendship, I remember feeling awkward about this initial meeting. I recall my dismay in the class we shared, when I raised my hand alone to state that I believed in creation. (Whether anyone else raised their hand or not, I don’t recall for certain. However, I vividly remember feeling alone.). There are memories of the way Mike admired my childhood friend, Janelle, from day one and the joy in seeing their strong marriage today. Rarely, (if ever) do I think about the impact my relationship with God played in my friend’s life.

As I listened to this brief audio clip, I was encouraged. For me, I simply invited a friend of mine to a place I enjoyed going. For him, he saw a girl being brave and bold for Jesus. It wasn’t the only encounter I had in high school that made me appear that way to others.

I’ll never forget the way a pothead stood up for me one Friday afternoon in another class. (He actually wore a baseball cap with an image of weed on it.) I had come to expect the weekly time that almost seemed set aside for “bash on Tristi and her religious beliefs” by my classmates and yes, even my teacher. This boy stood up and spoke on my behalf, “At least she stands up for what she believes in. Which is more than can be said for the rest of you.” While I don't even remember this boy's name, he encouraged me to stand strong in my beliefs.

Somewhere between high school and now, I lost my tenacity to live boldly for my God. Fear has made me shy in speaking of Jesus. What will others think of me? Will they think I'm too pushy? What if they no longer want to do life with me? As I sit back timidly shaking my head, the messages that are opposed to God's Word threaten to deafen His message of Truth. Hanging my head and holding my tongue is not what God called me to do.

"Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you." Deuteronomy 31:6 is one of my daughter’s favorite verses. I need it these days… I often feel alone. However, I’m not alone. God is right there with me.

My mind and my emotions are not a good place to locate truth. I may think I know what others think of me but I really don’t. Besides, it doesn’t matter what they think. In the end, I will stand before the only One whose opinion matters. “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:4b

My friend, Mike, reminded me of why it’s worth it to live bold and courageous for our God. In the same way his wife encouraged me to live boldly for God in high school simply by doing it with me, his encouragement inspires me now. It’s my prayer for everyone I love: to experience a growing relationship with God. Life seems so empty without it. With God, however, life has purpose and hope.

We need to encourage each other to do the right thing. It’s easy to find the encouragement in today’s world to take the “easy way out”. Persevering through the trials to develop character is where we need help. Relationships are where we experience it. Live it out daily in gratitude, in love, in word and in action. “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Thanks, Mike, for encouraging me. Thank you, friends and family, for doing life with me… especially when the going gets tough. Thank you, God, for giving me hope and purpose and being right there with me through it all.

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” – Hebrews 3:12-14

3 comments:

  1. Thank YOU.
    MP

    ReplyDelete
  2. Janelle PortwoodMay 28, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    :) wow! God is working even when we don't realize it!! Love u Tristi!

    ReplyDelete