Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

August 2009


It started when I read about how King Saul was afraid of the shepherd kid David. (The narrator said it twice; 1 Samuel 18:12,29).  This made no sense. Why would a powerful king be afraid of a simple shepherd? As I read the passage, I saw that it was because David wasn’t afraid of anything and Saul was afraid of so many things.

 David burst out of nowhere having spent his time in anonymity herding sheep and interacting with God. He was the ideal contemplative/activist:  composing and belting out ecstatic praise or deep feelings and certainties one minute and jumping into action to care for and defend the sheep the next.  When Saul questioned David closely about how he—a boy--dare fight Goliath, David seemed genuinely baffled by this:  “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. . . . The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam 17:34,35,37,). David had experience relying on God and watching God’s power work. He was genuinely confident.

 I, on the other hand, am like Saul. When people question me closely, I am afraid I’ll flub my answer. When someone I love gets upset or angry with me, I am afraid they will cease to like being around me. When I feel overlooked and left out, I become afraid and sometimes sink into self-pity or condemn whoever I think is at fault. When I worry that others will misjudge me, I become afraid and plan my defense.

 So I decided to start praying verses about confidence and it sounded a little like this:

  • O God, you are working righteousness in me a little at a time—may the effect of that be quietness and confidence (See Isa 32:17.) 
  • O God, you have always been my hope and confidence, even as a small child in a difficult family (See Psa 71:5).
  • As you teach me wisdom, I trust that you, O Lord, will be my confidence. My foot will never be trapped (See Prov 3:20-26).
  • As I learn to trust you for everything, O God, I will be blessed with increasing confidence in you (See Jer 17:7).
  • Teach me to continue to say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" and “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Heb 13:6;  Psa 118:7-9; 27:1) 

 As a result, “Quietness and confidence” is now a breath prayer for me. I find that when I spend time in solitude with God (which looks like nowhere to others), I can emerge with confidence and the willingness to act. I’m blessed even when questioned, even when others are upset and angry, even when I’m overlooked and even when others misjudge me. Why? Because then my confidence is never about me, but about God’s powerful love for me.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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