My heart is pounding as I write this. I don't know why I am so stirred by what I'm about to say, but I have a hunch that this is the brave thing to write, the brave thing to say. And that's why I'm a little nervous. But there is a greater reason than that: the depths of my spirit have been shaken to their foundations by what I've read this morning, and I can feel my adventure spirit moving. Right now I'm reading the book of Judges in the Bible. It's probably the least likely book that a lot of people, including myself, would think to read. It's a history book, but I really like history. Judges tells of the triumphs and travails of the people of Israel after the deaths of two of their greatest leaders, Moses and Joshua. After Joshua, Israel was led by various (you guessed it) judges. The Israelites would fall away from following God, and then their enemies would cruelly subjugate them. In their misery they cried out to God, God would have mercy and send a judge, and He would use the judge to defeat the enemy. And so on. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Israelites did this a lot.
Today, I read about Deborah.
Deborah was a prophetess. She was the wife of a man named Lappidoth, and we don't know anything about him other than that Deborah was his wife. She used to sit under a palm tree and judge the people when they came to her. The Israelites were living in a volatile time: they were being oppressed by the cruel general of a foreign king. The writer makes sure to say that he was cruel. Imagine the reign of terror.
One day, Deborah sent for a man named Barak, and she basically talked some sense into him. She said, "Hasn't God commanded you to gather an army? He will give this general into your hand." The phrase "Hasn't God commanded you" is incredible to me. This command had obviously been given some time before. Barak was afraid.
He said he would lead if she would go with him. She said she would.
Long story short, the army was defeated, but the cruel general was a coward and fled to an ally. The ally's wife was named Jael. As the general passed, she asked him to come and hide in her tent, and he did.
It was scandalous for a woman to invite a man to whom she was not married into her room. She did it anyway. And when he had fallen asleep, she killed him by hammering a tent stake into his head.
Sidebar: the Bible is 100% an action movie.
As I was reading this chapter this morning, it struck me: Deborah and Jael were brave. They were brave women. And the incredible thing? They did brave things without emasculating the men in their lives. They were both married. Both of them dealt with men on a regular basis. Deborah made sure Barak had the leadership of the Israelite army. She went with him, but as moral support. He led. They were women of valor without making their men seem like less.
And this moved me to think of all the other women in the Bible: Esther, Naomi, Ruth, Tamar, Rahab, the multiple Marys, Abigail, Lydia, and others. If anything, these women show that a woman's power doesn't come from her beauty or from any way that she may lord it over men. Any valor that we have comes from God. Any valor that anyone has comes from God.
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I have this obsession with being brave. I've always wanted to be brave. I want to be courageous to do big things.
You want to talk about big things?
God made Jael, Ruth, and Mary secure in Him so that they wouldn't care what others thought if they did a thing that might look scandalous, to which God had called them. He made Deborah trust Him enough to stand before an army, Esther enough to stand before a pagan king. He made Abigail courageous in Him to speak out. He made Ruth and Naomi brave to pick up their entire lives and move away. He somehow, some way, whispered crazy trust into Rahab's ears, and she forsook her city and her people for God. He made Mary Magdalene and Lydia courageous to follow this man named Jesus in the face of overwhelming antagonism and potential murder.
They were prostitutes and devoted wives, common women and queens, Jewish girls and non-Jewish women, entrepreneurs and homemakers.
To all of them, God spoke tenderness and love and whispered, Trust Me.
And He does the same for me daily. Every morning, whether it rains or shines or dust storms, He whispers in my ear about trust. He deals tenderly with me. Because He loves me, I know I am approved of. Because He has redeemed me, I know I am safe in Him -- what can other people do to me, anyway? And He has never not come through for me, so I can trust Him.
Even when I am cowering in fear, He whispers in my ear, Trust Me.
His love and safety make me able to do the brave thing. Whether it's moving or speaking out or writing this post or simply showing up, because I am secure in Jesus, I can do the thing that takes more courage than I think I have in my body.
He makes me adventurous. He makes me daring. He makes me valiant.
He makes me brave.