Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Bold. That’s my word for 2019.
It was January when I chose bold as my word for the year. It was cold and snowy, and I could finally wear all my favorite sweaters. For the first time in far too long, life was quiet. I was home for Christmas break, and I allowed myself room to rest, to listen to God, and to exhale.
But with complete transparency, I admit that I was not in a great place. I was exhausted. Looking back, it’s ironic that I chose bold as a word to cling to during a time of weakness.
Throughout first semester, I had piled more and more expectation and pressure on myself. I was juggling pieces of the past and future, trying to figure out how it all fit into my present. I was trying to decide what career path and interests I wanted to chase. I was devoting myself to a pursuit of achievement, losing sight of my desperate need for God and becoming numb to His presence. I took on extra jobs, and I was pushing myself harder and harder in my classes. Really, I was trying to function on my own strength. And I couldn’t. It didn’t take me long to figure that out, but learning how to truly become dependent on the Lord was a journey.
Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of really good days and really good memories that semester too. Life moved right along. I found a deeper passion for writing and storytelling. I cultivated sweet, sweet friendships. The problem was, through it all, my soul was not at rest. I learned so much through that season, and I had an overwhelming understanding that God was using that time to refine me.
So in January, at the climax of my insufficiency, doubt, questions, and uncertainty, I surrendered. And strangely enough, that surrender led to a newfound boldness.
Bold sounded daunting. I thought boldness was sweating at the gym with mascara running down my face. Or maybe driving too fast and taking chances. Better yet, boldness was marching up to someone who had treated me unfairly and giving them a piece of my mind like it was a hold-your-breath moment in a movie. Or perhaps it was being the brave, independent woman who takes on every challenge without blinking an eye. It sounded like everything that I wasn’t, and it sounded even more exhausting.
But here’s the thing, biblical boldness isn’t dependent on us at all. When God whispered the word bold to me in January, I don’t think the notion of power or success or brazenness is what He had in mind. I realized that the word bold was actually an encouragement to think about the way I approach God.
Hebrews 4:16 isn’t talking about just any kind of boldness. It says we should approach the throne of grace with boldness. But per usual, this passage flips our notion of boldness upside down.
Hebrews chapter 4 starts with rest. It’s not the context I would expect for a passage about boldness. The chapter explains that we cannot truly enter rest and Sabbath without faith in Jesus. It invites us to rest in Him and His promises. It speaks of God’s power and omniscience.
Finally, Hebrews 4 reminds us that we can come to God’s rest just like we are. He is all-powerful and all-knowing, and He still loves us. He gets us. He knows what it’s like to feel tired, broken, inadequate, [fill in the blank]. He knows how weak we are.
We don’t have to muster up the boldness to come to Him polished and strong. No, we can come to Him battered, bruised, and helpless. We can surrender ourselves at His throne. Boldness flows from surrender and our own weakness.
In the bleak of winter and middle of my hot mess, I approached God’s throne “naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (v. 13). I told Him how tired I felt and how much I missed Him. I talked to him about my uncertainty. That was my first step in boldness.
Just like He always has, God loved me. Just like His Word says, he gave me “mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16).
And if I can approach God’s throne boldly and rely on Him, I can take on anything.
After I found boldness in coming to the Lord, the word “bold” started to make a lot more sense for this year of life.
The last three months have been crazy. I got engaged; I said yes to a lifetime of hugs and kisses and holding hands and prayers and tears and laughter. I spent over 40 hours on airplanes. On a whim, I went to Colorado with friends and climbed beautiful mountains. I stuck my hand out the window as I drove, letting the wind tickle my fingertips on winding Colorado roads. I moved to Boone for a 10-week summer internship and started making another new place home. During my first week here, I jumped off a rock into freezing mountain water. Last week, I hopped on a plane to South Africa and traveled across the world to look into children’s eyes, hold their hands, and hear their stories. I planted my feet in the cold waves of the Indian ocean.
I have been bold, but only because I have approached God boldly in every time of need (which is all the time).
I have a lot of words left to write about each of these excursions over the past three months, but I needed to share this part of the story first. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to make bold my word. Yet it’s only July and I dare to say there’s even more coming. Sometimes I’ve come kicking and screaming, but wow, I’ve been resting at the throne of grace, basking in His presence. That’s real boldness.