Growing virtue can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help because it’s impossible without Him. On the other hand...be careful what you ask because He just might deliver!
Such was my experience with my most recent virtue study. My team and I decided to cultivate the virtue of “Holy Audacity.” Holy cow...the Holy Spirit doesn’t fool around with virtue!
Audacity is the willingness to take bold risks. Holy Audacity is the willingness to take bold risks for God. What kinds of risks? The kind He instructs or inspires us to do. There are plenty of examples in both the Old and New Testaments of God inspiring ordinary people to do audacious things.
Moses, with a fear of public speaking, became the Israelite’s spokesperson.
Esther the Jewish beauty married pagan King Ahasuerus and saved her people from genocide.
Sheepherder David slew giant Goliath with a stone.
Judge Deborah led a military battle, winning against all odds.
Noah built an ark while waiting for rain.
John the Baptist called King Herod an adulterer.
Prostitute Rahab hid Israelite spies before their battle at Jericho.
Joshua and his men won the battle of Jericho by marching the Ark of the Covenant around the city and blowing trumpets.
Holy audacity is based in the truth that God is always faithful, and He will deliver. Does this mean He always delivers what we desire? Not at all. Sometimes what we want does not match God’s plan. Then we must trust that His plan is better than ours.
Rosa Parks didn’t set out to become a model of peaceful resistance. She was just trying to get home after an exhausting day at work. She boarded a bus and sat in the first row of the “colored” section in the middle of the bus. As the bus progressed through its route, the white section filled up. When several white men boarded and were forced to stand, the bus driver demanded that Rosa and several other passengers vacate their seats. The other African Americans stood, but Rosa was tired of giving in. She remained seated. She was arrested and booked for violating the Montgomery City Code. At her trial she was found guilty and fined ten dollars along with a four-dollar court fee. http://www.biography.com/people/rosa-parks-9433715#montgomery-bus-boycott. Her audacity in the face of injustice propelled the civil rights movement forward.
On the night of the arrest head of the local NAACP chapter E.D. Nixon met with a young minister named Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders to plan a citywide bus boycott. Thus began 382 days of hardship for the African American community. Walking to work was just one of these hardships. They also endured harassment, intimidation and violence.
Like many of his predecessors, Martin at first was a reluctant prophet. He was interested in advancing civil rights, but not in a national spotlight with the notoriety it entailed. His life during the boycott became increasingly more difficult--and dangerous. Towards the end of the boycott as many as 40 harassing phone calls, including death threats, came to his house. Martin found himself afraid and discouraged. Just the kind of prophet God can work with!
One night after hanging up on a threatening phone call, Martin reached the limit of his own strength. While contemplating a way to back out of the movement without appearing a coward, he decided to take his problem to God. Below is an account he gave in his book Stride Toward Freedom:
The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. "I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone."
At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: "Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever." Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything."
Three days later Martin’s house was bombed, his family barely escaping unharmed. Yet Martin wasn’t afraid. He had surrendered to God and trusted in His protection. When a vengeful group gathered seeking retaliation, he met them with Gospel words: "We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop because God is with this movement. Go home with this glorious faith and radiant assurance." https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/god-dr-kings-kitchen-table
Thus began Martin Luther King, Jr.’s non-violent mission.
Audacious people aren’t always courageous. Often they are afraid. They just take their fear to God and let Him handle it.
A father’s audacious prayer for his daughter’s life
The faith of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Healing of a blind woman
Audacity’s not just tricky for grown ups--it can be a challenge for kids, too. There’s a fine line between boldness and rudeness, and kids need to learn to balance that line. Heck, grown ups need to learn that balance too. The important thing with holy audacity is to remember that you are first and foremost a beloved child of an awesome Father. All He wants is for you to trust Him. Like all good fathers, He expects you to listen and obey. When you don’t obey, He wants you to admit it. God offers us His unconditional love and protection. We have to be audacious enough to accept them.