The Confident Life

Confidence is highly honored and praised in our culture. One of our society’s most well-known quotes comes from Henry David Thoreau, and it shows the esteem we possess for this attribute:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

 As Christians, we have a high view of confidence, too. Search through the Bible and you’ll find more than a few passages that start with the phrase, “I am confident,” or “we are confident,” or “being confident of this.”

Our culture often builds it’s sense of confidence on what we accomplish in life. Have we, as Thoreau suggests, “lived the life we imagined”? Our preparation, our performance, our years of experience, our willingness to authentically “be who we are” — these are the things on which our society recommends we build our sense of confidence.

Our society says that we should stop looking outside of ourselves. True confidence is found by digging deep and looking within. Self-respect, self-worth and self-love all begin with self. And many in our world today believe this.

The Bible also wants us to learn and build confidence. But it suggests an entirely different path to confidence. This path directs us away from ourselves to God.

It’s tough to be confident with consistency when we base our confidence on ourselves. Our preparation is shaky at times. Our performance can occasionally be sub-optimal. What if we haven’t yet built up those years of experience? Or what about those times when we go through seasons of self-doubt, and aren’t really sure who we are?

Confidence is good. But we can possess a confidence that’s far more solid and consistent if we build it on the Lord.

As David writes, the Lord keeps all his promises. He always does what he says he’s going to do. He reaches down to us when we’ve fallen and gives us a hand up. He gives us our daily sustenance, and he satisfies our desires. Take note, he fulfills not just our needs, but even our desires.

Jesus. And Jesus’ accomplishments. Now there’s a solid place upon which to build our confident life.

“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:13b – 21, NIV).

Lord Jesus, you alone are my confidence. Help me turn away from self to you, to resist the temptation to look at my own accomplishments and instead look to you and your accomplishments as my true source of confidence. You keep your promises, and I know you will open your hand and satisfy my desires.

Our Bible reading for Monday, December 21, is Ezra 7:11 – 8:14, Revelation 13:1-18 and Psalm 145:13-21.

Header image based on "Go Confidently" by Son of Groucho, CC By 2.0

…to this day

Sometimes you get amazing wisdom from children. And sometimes it comes from those who have been around the block a time or two.

Jacob had definitely been around the block a few times. He lived to be 147 years old, and shortly before his death he asked his son Joseph to bring his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to him. He wanted to give them his blessing.

It’s as he’s bestowing a blessing upon Joseph and the two boys that Jacob (by then renamed Israel) says, “Then he blessed Joseph and said, ‘May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys'” (Genesis 48:15-16a, NIV).

At the very end of his 147 years of life, Jacob looks back and affirms that God had been with him all the way, had walked with him and shepherded him throughout his life, and had protected him every time something threatened to harm him… to this day.

What was Jacob thinking in that exact moment? Was he contemplating all the sins of deception he had committed? Was he reflecting on his brother Esau’s once murderous intentions toward him? Was he considering his father-in-law Laban’s cheating, conniving ways that cost him 20 years of that life? Was he pondering the time he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord? Or the time when Esau and his 400 men were riding out to meet him as he made his way back to Canaan?

Maybe it was all of the above. But whatever it was from the past, Jacob claimed that the very same shepherding and protecting was still happening in the present!

Jacob saw it all clearly, both the past and the present. He saw God’s providence and protection… to this day. He spied many evidences of God’s love… to this day. He witnessed many instances of God’s guidance and forgiveness… to this day.

How about you? As you look back, do you see in your own life what Jacob saw? Do you see the same shepherding and protecting… to this day?

Lord, give me the eyes of Jacob. I want to see you as he did. I want to have the eyes of faith to know that as I walk through life, I am in your eyesight. You are shepherding me every day. You are delivering and helping me at all times, keeping me from harm… to this day!

Our Bible reading for Saturday, January 24, is Genesis 47:13 – 48:22, Matthew 16:21 – 17:13 and Proverbs 3:1-10.

Header image based on "Calendar*" by Cholet, CC by 2.0