Finding Confidence

Gerrit Scott Dawson

I’ll never forget my first day in a new high school. As I stood in line for the bus, I thought that I looked good in my new clothes and my cool new shoes. Wrong! “Stupid shoes,” I heard a voice say behind me. A cute blonde freshman had just sliced and diced my confidence. I got on the bus, but there was no place to sit. Nobody wanted to sit next to the new kid. When I got to school, I couldn’t figure out how the locker worked. Kids came and went all around me while I stood there helpless with all my books. What a goober!

Sad sneakers2 TSP 480334655I remember relying hard on the Lord those first days. I felt stupid, ugly, unable — as if I were nothing. It was the Spirit of Christ Jesus within me that got me through the painful transition. On the bus or in bed at night, I had to go to that place in my heart where I felt sheltered under God’s wings. It was a small place, for I wasn’t very big. It was a quiet place, for my voice was pitiful. It was a safe place, for God met me there and gave me courage to face the frightening hours.

The Scared Warrior

How do we gain confidence when everything in our lives makes us feel weak and fearful? The Book of Joshua tells the story of a mighty warrior who did great things for God. Joshua was the leader who led Israel from the wilderness into the Promised Land. He defeated mighty armies, confronted evil among his own people, and even brought down the walls of the great city of Jericho. Surely, of all people, Joshua must have been full of confidence, right? Hardly.

Judging by how often God had to encourage him, Joshua must have been one insecure guy. Over and over we hear the Lord say things like this: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9b, NRSV). You don’t keep telling someone all the time not to be frightened unless they are scared! Joshua’s insides must have turned to mush as he thought about the task before him.

The Keys to Confidence

Joshua found confidence. He found it when he looked away from himself toward God who promised, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b, NRSV). God told Joshua that he would succeed. But the source of his strength would not come from his own power, intelligence, or ability; it would come from God who promised to be with him every step of the way.

That’s the first key to confidence. We don’t simply try harder to believe in ourselves. Instead, we look away from ourselves, weak and pitiful as we are, and focus on God, who is strong, mighty, and utterly reliable.

Early morning walk TS 142397968If we look a little closer at what God told Joshua, we’ll also find the second key to confidence: “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7, NRSV). Success and courage came to Joshua, not because he followed his own dreams but because he put God’s will above all else. Confidence arises when we determine to do first what God wants.

But how do we know what God wants? Hear what God told Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8a, NRSV). God told Joshua to learn the scriptures so that he would know who God is and how he was to act. This knowledge would help shape his actions and keep him in God’s will as he led the people.

Confidence comes not from ourselves but from God. Yet to receive God’s courage and comfort, we have to know who God is. We meet God in the Word, in the pages of scripture. There we find that God is our refuge, our shelter, our strength, and our hope.  There we learn how to stay in God’s will throughout the day. I would never have made it through those awful first days of high school without knowing the Lord who kept whispering to me, “Be strong and courageous. I am with you wherever you go.”


Bible Reading Guy2 TS 137299797DIG DEEPER

Read aloud Psalm 91. Then think of a situation or a relationship in which you lack confidence. Lift this situation to God as you read the psalm again quietly. Imagine yourself finding refuge in God as you pray. Visualize being gathered under the warm, soft, mighty feathers of God’s wings. In that safe place, give God your lack of confidence and receive God’s words of strength.

Gerrit Scott Dawson is a pastor and writer.

—from devozine (September/October 2003). Copyright © 2003 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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