As fear inches closer and normal remains just out of arm’s reach, we’re all growing a bit weary. Katie Westenberg knows a bit of that weariness – in waiting, in wanting a different outcome, in wishing the fear would just subside. But what if fear isn’t the problem, but rather the answer? In her new book I Choose Brave: Embracing Holy Courage and Understanding Godly Fear, Katie unwraps what it means to fear the Lord and live bravely from that Truth. It’s a grace to welcome Katie to the farm’s front porch today…
Weeks turned into months and my story was much the same. Chronic, intermittent bleeding. Strong heartbeat. Steady growth. It’s strange how quickly abnormal can become your new normal.
The twenty-week ultrasound was fast approaching and we were thrilled to find out the gender of our baby. We’d had our fill of surprises with this complicated pregnancy. We weren’t interested in playing any wait and see games.
I settled myself onto the familiar ultrasound table and made small talk with the tech while she prepped her surroundings in a practiced manner. Warm jelly on my stomach, adjust the screen for patient viewing, grab the ultrasound wand and go to work.
But when her wand connected with my belly, nothing made sense. Like groping for a familiar anchor when the lights go out, my eyes scanned the screen, hoping to make sense of something, anything. A steady heartbeat pulsed through the speaker, but nothing looked right.
Confused, I let my eyes drift to the ultrasound tech. Her poker face was solid, but her vague words were everything, “Excuse me for just a minute,” she lobbed softly, “I need to go get a doctor.”
In the Psalms we get a diary-like peek into David’s heart of worship and his raw and intimate methods of pursuing Christ, regardless of his current circumstances.
His worship isn’t situational – it’s Sunday morning at 9:30 and the piano is playing so worship is what we do – but rather a response gutted out in the truth of who God is, regardless of his situation, and the time, and a piano. This is what it looks like to fear the Lord regardless, because our current situation does not for a second change the truth of who He is.
David’s example in Psalm 56:3 is classic, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” What a short and sweet prescriptive – one we should jot down and say on repeat.
But when we look closer, in context, there is much more to mine here.
He was speaking from the trenches. David was not holed up in a lofty tower penning encouragement to the lowly who were struggling with their daily battles. His enemies were many, hounding him all day, the previous verses tell us (Psalm 56:1-2). He is feeling that fear acutely.
He was making a better battle plan. David wasn’t pretending it wasn’t messy. As can-do women we easily become experts at minimizing our hard. But David wasn’t down-playing, he was bossing himself around while he was in the midst of some real hard.
He reminded himself of what is true and declared it. David had some history with God. He knew Him and chose to press into Truth. The same choice exists for us. We can boldly declare like David, “…This I know, that God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9)
He humbled himself to worship. As the passage continues on (Psalm 56:12-13) we see that David’s remembrance and declaration led him to praise and worship – the only proper response when we stop and look, pause and remember who God is here, now, still.
The reality of David’s circumstances did not change one bit between these verses, but the reality of his heart did. And this is the invitation for you and me.
David’s God has not changed. Our unchanging God inhabits the praises of His people. He works in and amid our pain when we choose to lock eyes with Him and fear Him even here, even in what we consider to be our worst fears.
After I gave birth to my perfectly formed, lifeless daughter, I wanted the physical and emotional healing to be immediate, linear, quick.
I’m guessing you have wanted the same in your pain and fears too?
I wanted Jesus to step into that boat, walk through my storm, and calm the wind and waves not momentarily, but quickly and permanently.
The work of grief is slow and messy.
The work of hurt and healing take time, but worship in these places is a hallowed-out offering from our emptiest parts, bravely asking Him to fill them with more of Him. It’s raw, vulnerable, but the learning here is rich because He is so very near in these broken-hearted places. (Psalm 34:18)
These are trenches in which we get to know Him, friend.
We get to form a better battle plan by beginning here, remembering and declaring who He is and humbling our hearts to worship.
This is holy courage. This is godly fear. And He is forever worthy. May we know Him more, here.
Katie Westenberg is first a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mom growing faithfully right alongside her four children. As both an author and speaker, she teaches women to grow a robust theology of who God is, become students of Scripture, and learn to live that truth out with courage.
What if fear is the new brave? That’s the question you need answered if you are living afraid. Finding courage begins with fear itself – fear of the Lord.
I Choose Brave reveals a countercultural plan to help you where you are–knee-deep in fears of parenting, the future, your marriage, and a world that feels unstable. When you’re feeling fearful, the last thing you need is a social-media meme telling you to simply “power through” your fears.
Katie digs deep into Scripture and shows that finding the courage to overcome our fears must start with fear of the Lord. Hundreds of passages speak to this foundational truth, yet we have somehow relegated them to antiquity. In sharing her own compelling story of facing her worst fear, Katie serves up theological truth with relatable application.
With this new knowledge comes tremendous freedom. Hidden in the cleft of the Rock, the One truly worthy of our fear, you will begin to understand the only path to real courage. I Choose Brave: Embracing Holy Courage and Understanding Godly Fear is a biblically solid and yet counter-cultural plan, pointing you straight to Truth in a world that feels unstable.
[ Our humble thanks to Bethany House for their partnership in today’s devotion ]