SUMMER PSALMS | FOR BRAVERY

   
Being a business owner is brave.
Being an artist is brave.
Being a writer is brave.
Being a wife is brave.
Being a mom is brave.
Being a nurse is brave.
Being a teacher is brave.
Being a student is brave.
Being a friend is brave.
Being a leader is brave.
Being a follower is brave.
Being a builder is brave.
    
Being brave is brave.
   
And the list continues.
   
I don't know about you, but bravery isn't something that always comes naturally when my feet hit the floor each morning.  It takes time, grit, patience -- but it isn't muscle memory. Bravery's roots grow down into our hearts.
  
"Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Psalms 27:14 NLT
  
Summer feels like it's wrapping up ever too quickly. Kiddos and teachers are back in school, and we're full speed ahead into fall. But you know, the start of autumn doesn't officially kick off until September 22nd, so let's keep digging into Summer Psalms just a little longer, shall we?
  
Psalms 27 speaks to me so clearly. Waiting for the Lord often requires us to be brave and courageous. Can you think of a time when the "waiting game" became all too familiar? Perhaps you're in the middle of one now -- Waiting for the Lord to answer a prayer, finish a project, provide, heal, bring you to the next season?
  
Time and time again seasons of waiting are much more than just that. They're times of teaching, releasing, instilling, refining. Not always easy, often very messy. And the Lord gives so much grace. This very verse comforts and grows us in our waiting. Yes, while we wait, He strengthens our hearts. (The NKJV translation tells us so!)
   
Scripture is filled with bravery and patience. Bible stories of bold believers may feel like they were written way more than a lifetime and a half ago, but even still the messages resonate with us today. Esther, Ruth, Mary, Daniel, Joseph, David, Noah, and so on. Nehemiah wasn't necessarily the first person who came to mind as a Bible brave heart, but give it a read and like me, maybe you'll change your mind. Yet again, we see God working through those least expected to be bold and carry out His Kingdom work, even if they were stubborn, afraid, oppressed, threatened, or weak.
  
Nehemiah was distraught at his homeland's wall being destroyed and left in ruins. He felt compelled to go to Jerusalem to rebuild it. He served as a cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes, who gave him permission to go to Judah and start this tall task. What's more? The king sent Nehemiah with letters for travel safety and to receive supplies (Nehemiah 1-2), and named him governor of Judah (Nehemiah 5). Even with the king's support, his mission was not met without massive opposition.
  
“Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” (‭‭v. ‭4:1-2‬)
  
I don't know about you, but I've never built a city wall before. Let me back up, I've never even built a wall. Building in those days was no doubt quite different than construction today. The trials and threats they faced were far deeper than the task of arranging stones. Nehemiah could have given up, but he refused to stop working. Who is this Sanballat guy anyway? 
   
Even still when his enemies plotted to harm him, he said, "I am engaged in a great work, so I can't come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?" (v. 6:3). Not today, enemy! 52 days later, the wall construction was complete (v. 6:15). Nehemiah's reverent fear of the Lord surpassed any fright of his enemies. Instead, they became the frightened ones!
  
“When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.” (‭‭v. ‭6:16‬)
  
Patience, perseverance, determination, bravery -- these four kept Nehemiah on the move -- and each one fuels the other. Nehemiah saw right through his naysayers' threats: “They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.” ‭‭(v. ‭6:9‬) 
  
Wherever you are today, brave is in you. Yes, you can be brave by the power of the Holy Spirit living in your heart. "On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul" (Psalm 138:3 NASB).
  
As you wait and as you work: trust the One who holds all things together and brings all things to completion. Hey you, doing all the things! Don't let the naysayers stop you, and don't let your own naysayer stop you either. Borrow some of Nehemiah's tools -- Continue the work with even greater determination. And we are not alone. God sent Jesus to us so we wouldn't have to build a wall to reach Him. Instead, Jesus bridged heaven and earth so we may always be with Him.
  
He's got the heavy lifting and stone rolling handled. May it be so.

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