by Kaley Rhea @KaleyFaithRhea
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:5-7 ESV
The other day I witnessed bare, undiluted bravery. And it was wearing the face of a ballerina-obsessed two-year-old.
I was with my sister and her little girl, Emerson, visiting my brother at his house. He has a 90-pound, exuberant, sweet, clumsy, in-your-face black lab called Ellie Jo, and Emerson found herself overwhelmed. Insistently overwhelmed. “Ellie scare me,” she explained. Her protests were well-pronounced and accompanied by fat tears.
It went on for thirty minutes. Emerson did not want Ellie anywhere near her.
So, because I’m the kind of aunt who likes to experiment on her niece, I asked her, “Emerson. How can you be brave?” Curious about her answer, curious about whether she’d give one, curious about whether she even knew the word “brave.” I didn’t expect much, but she’s a very talky kid, and I love to hear the wild things she comes up with.
But Emerson didn’t say anything at all. She looked at me. And immediately she walked away from her mother. She walked up to Ellie Jo, who stood taller than she did, and stopped beside her. She reached out, and with her tiny, chubby hand, she pet Ellie’s side. She loved on her.
And I just…couldn’t even…
You ever been taught a thing by a baby? I was blown away.
Somehow in Emerson’s child mind there was an understanding that right then, bravery was not to fight the source of her fear. Bravery was not to avoid it or scold it or make it submit to her. Perfect bravery in that moment was to abandon her security and show love. And she understood it well enough to do it. All in. Not gingerly. But gently.
Later, in the car on the way home, my sister Allie told Emerson, “When we get home, tell Grandpa and Day-Day the story of how you were brave.”
I carried her in. And the moment we were through the door to her grandparents’ house, Emerson shouted in triumph, “My brave!” I love the way she tells a story. Succinct.
The more I think about that afternoon, the more the Lord, as is His way, turns my heart-eyes toward Jesus. And I’m reminded how, while every physical and supernatural fiber of His being cried out in revulsion at the terrifying physical and supernatural torment He would endure at the cross, He, even having the full power and authority of God, went quietly, obediently, and with amazing, undeserved compassion. That is bravery. And that is our Source of bravery.
The name Emerson literally means “strong and brave,” and I know her parents’ prayer for her from the beginning has been that she would be exactly that in Jesus. So I want to ask you, too, if you’ll end our time today by joining me in praying for the kids. All you Loises and Eunices with your children and grands of however-old. And all you who, like me, that have no children of your own but know some young people you have a million feelings for. Let’s lay our hands on ‘em today. Pray with me for the kids, that they would know the true Christ—the compassionate and powerful Jesus—and that He will make them brave.
Sweet Jesus, You ignited my faith. Make it roar. Through Your spirit, supply me with the courage to be obedient. To love as You love. To fight the battles against the darkness of this world through the mighty strength that only comes from You. With compassion for the people You died to save. And when I am afraid, remind me again how You’ve already defeated death. Remind me again how my true security is with You, unshakable, eternal. Remind me that You are my brave. Amen.
About the author: Kaley Rhea is a St. Louis-area author and one half of the mother/daughter writing team behind Christy Award finalist novel Turtles in the Road (with the hilarious Rhonda Rhea). She also makes up one third of the writing team for the new, non-fiction book Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and the fabulous Monica Schmelter). She’s unclear on how fractions work, but if Rhonda Rhea is the common denominator, Kaley is pretty sure that makes her like five-sixths of Monica Schmelter. Or something like that.
Join the conversation: How has Jesus become your brave?