Each one of us has a Holy Spirit-designed purpose where the fire of His spirit flows through us for the benefit of others. Ephesians 2:10 echoes Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the work of your hands.” And the enemy of our soul will come at us with guns blazing and flaming arrows, often using other people, life’s disappointments, and our flawed understanding as the carriers for his weapons.
What draws you? What pulls at you even though the risk of rejection reigns? What do you need courage for in order to say, “Yes”? What is the one thing that won’t let you go even in the midst of opposition and disdain?
It could be a desire to grow in knowledge about the Bible, but people are telling you it’s not important. Maybe you burn to start a non-profit, but opposition confronts your every move. You might have a drive to serve your local church, but your innovative ideas get rejected by the leadership team. Or maybe you have a vision for your family that runs opposite of the world’s vision, and you just want to do what God has asked without criticism from your mother, next door neighbor, or the stranger at the store.
That thing you’re most discouraged about in your life just might be the one thing that God has designed for you to step into with courage and victory, fulfilling his purpose for you.
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A Psalm for Comfort and Courage
Psalm 23 is one of the best known texts of the Bible, and it’s used to comfort the hurting and wounded. It also holds a gem that enables us to live with courage while in the midst of opposition. Enemies like insecurity, pride, fear of failure, and sabotaged success. These enemies whisper that you can’t, you’re not good enough, that you’re unequipped, uneducated, and unforgiven.
I used to think that people were my enemies, and I would hold onto a list of names and the wounds associated with each. This person said that and that one did this. But this is what I’ve discovered: I have one enemy, and he is a liar and a deceiver. His mission is to kill, steal, and destroy using whatever means necessary. He uses people and situations to play on my interior enemies of pride, insecurity, fear, rejection, doubt, and worthlessness. And he does the same thing to you.
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"I’ve lost my way and found God’s way."
I’ve sung for as long as I can remember, and it’s brought me the highest highs and the lowest lows. I’ve lost my way and found God’s way. I believed the glory was all for Him, but I have craved it for myself. I’ve been crippled by performance anxiety and set free to soar. I’ve thought I had to get over my insecurity and pride in order to be truly courageous on the stage. But God invited me into the story of Psalm 23 and showed me the key to courage.
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Courage in God's Presence
Psalm 23:5: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.”
It’s not the absence of my enemies that makes me courageous, but God’s presence in the midst of my enemies. Insecurity waves to me from the distance. Pride sneaks in close. Rejection raises its dagger. Failure mocks me. But my eyes are riveted to the table filled with abundant hope, peace, love, joy, confidence, courage, assurance, endurance, steadfastness, happiness, power, a sound mind, and laughter that God prepares.
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“You prepare a table before me”
The table God prepares for you has been prepared specifically for you. It’s the king’s table. Not the unwanted guests at a reception table, but the guest of honor’s table. This table is full of abundance. It’s set and prepared with exactly what you need for strength and courage according to the purpose God has placed within you. He invites you to join Him at the table that He set; you don’t need to strive to set the table and gather what you need. You simply need to join him. Will you pull up a chair and feast on courage? It’s there waiting for you. Pick it up and savor it.
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“In the presence of my enemies”
You mustn’t think that you need to wait until your enemies are vanquished before you can have victory. It’s fully possible to vanquish them when you courageously sit at God’s table to savor the feast He’s prepared. You disengage the enemy when you fully engage your thoughts, emotions, ambitions, and conscience on the Lord’s goodness and grace. Your enemies are there, but so is God. He invites you to live with courage in the face of your enemies, trusting that He will provide you with everything you need to defeat them.
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“You anoint my head with oil”
The head is the tipping point for our heart. If our minds can be transformed, our hearts grow strong in belief. Have you ever woken from a daydream and taken a moment to shake your head? As you sit at this bountiful table, and take in the wondrous sights of intricate deserts, the intoxicating scent of fresh bread, and the sizzle of savory meats, it’s almost like you wake to the real reality of abundant life with Christ. You give your head a little shake as you realize that this abundance is just for you, and rather than declining, you savor. And as you savor, you experience courage to keep moving forward.
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“My cup overflows.”
You are held together by the love, care, and faithfulness of our Shepherd God. You are cupped in God’s hands, and He pours abundant courage into you. You are a vessel to be used for the purpose of God and as He fills you up, you overflow so that you might bless others. Joy, peace, trust, and courage are poured into you when you sit at God’s table. Then as you receive it, you give it away because there is abundant courage when you feast on God’s abundance.
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God Provided Courage For Me
We experience the blessing of God providing for us, and we’re able to know God’s grace when we receive it with faith and devotion, which leads us to unspeakable joy and courage. God provides for us in all things pertaining to life and godliness. He makes provisions for us to live this life well while preparing our hearts for eternity with Him.
Because of Psalm 23:5, I savored courage as I conquered performance anxiety when I stepped onto a stage to tell the story of Sandra Bloom in the musical Big Fish. It was as if there was a table set in the middle of the stage, and lining the room were my enemies of insecurity, critical voices, rejection, and fear. I was aware of my enemies, but I wasn’t distracted by them because of God’s table of courage placed in their presence.
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"Your God-given purpose requires courage..."
Courage on display in the presence of our enemies, not in the absence of them, is found when we sit with confidence and joy at God’s table to receive his abundant blessings. Your God-given purpose requires courage because the enemy will do whatever it takes to prevent you from stepping into it with confidence.
It’s a courageous heart that takes a deep breath, gathers its strength, and steps out of the shadows to feast at the table God has prepared; and as you do so, you bind your enemies, because your eyes are focused on the one who brings light and life to your soul.
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"Sit at the table and receive..."
Step out today. Sit at the table and receive God’s lasting joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, mercy, and courage. Let His Word speak to the wounded places in your heart where the enemy focuses his attack. And as you sit at the table of God’s abundant grace and goodness, you will gain the courage to stand and take the next step into your God-given, God-ordained, God-planned purpose. Living courageously in your purpose starts with savoring God’s presence in the midst of your enemies.
Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ your personal histories don’t have to define your present or determine your future. Her greatest desire is to see you live this “God-life” with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her at www.welcomegrace.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yourJessicaVanRoekel
This article is part of our courage theme for the month of August on iBelieve. What is courage? Usually, we associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. We believe this kind of “ordinary courage” is what God calls us to live into every day of our lives.
Check back here throughout August for a new story of courage as our writers tackle what it means to be faithful, courageous women in a culture that values comfort and conformity.
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Originally published Friday, 17 August 2018.