I grew up in church. Went to Sunday school. Sang in the choir. Said my prayers. But I didn’t completely understand the incredible sacrifice offered me through the blood of Jesus on the cross until I was well into adulthood, raising a family, and finally coming to the realization that I was a broken, self-centered sinner in need of a Savior.
It was at a three-day Christian women’s retreat called the “Walk to Emmaus” where God’s relentless pursuit of His lost sheep caught up with me in the brokenness of my past mistakes, sinful choices, and selfish thinking. Like the men who encountered Jesus on their walk to Emmaus, my eyes were opened and my life was changed forever. With a repentant heart, I finally understood and accepted His incredible gift of grace and forgiveness. The burden of my sin was lifted, and I was determined to change my life so it would reflect the light of Jesus. I wanted others to know Him, too. But I wasn’t sure what that looked like in a world where the Enemy sets up roadblocks at every turn. It would require me to dig deep and bravely face the path God had set out for me.
Of course, Jesus never promises it will be easy, but through the Holy Spirit living within us as believers, He provides guidance, strength, and courage to be light in a dark world. In the face of temptation, distraction, and worldly desires, we can depend on Him to ward off the Enemy and stay courageously focused on who God is calling us to be.
3 reminders in Scripture to help us courageously follow Jesus:
1. The Security of Our Salvation
All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:37-40)
When we sincerely surrender our lives to Christ, we find strength and peace in God’s promise of eternal life no matter what comes our way. By keeping an eternal mindset, we can combat the Enemy without fear, knowing that our earthly home is temporary and our heavenly home awaits.
2. The Bravery of Jesus
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)
Often, my human shortcomings lead to feelings of despair, disappointment, frustration, or fear. Of course, that is not living the abundant life of a Jesus-follower. When I remind myself of the bravery of Jesus as He faced his impending death on the cross, I am empowered to approach every day with conviction and confidence that God is with me. Jesus did not spare Himself the pain and agony of the crucifixion required to wash away our sins. Instead, knowing every day that He would be brutally beaten and hung on a cross to atone for our sins, He did it anyway out of His love for us and His trust in God’s plan. This inspires me to maintain a posture of gratitude for His ultimate sacrifice.
3. The Freedom of Forgiveness
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
This passage gets me every time. I am forgiven despite my sinful ways. I consider the grace and mercy of Jesus as fuel that energizes me to bravely serve Him in all I do, even when it’s not easy.
The next time you find yourself discouraged, turn with courage to the one who is asking us to die to ourselves, live for Him, and engage in the battle for souls, and trust that the victory is ours in the promise of eternal life with Him.