Tuesday, December 26, 2000

"Take Care" or "Be Bold"

Some of you have wondered about the salutation at the end of my greetings and letters. The words, "Be Bold" may seem strange. Let me tell you why that has become my signature greeting over the past few years.

I became bothered by the way I ended conversations some years ago. I noticed that when I finished talking with someone, whether in person or on the phone, I nearly always ended with the words, "Take care." I thought that was a good way to communicate concern for someone. I don't believe that anymore.

In May 1993, I was in Colorado to help teach the Dynamic Communicators Workshop. After we finished up the week, I had the opportunity to talk with Rich, one of the other instructors. I'd wanted to have that time because I could see in Rich's actions and hear in his words a depth of the presence of God that I had not seen before. At the time, Rich had been battling Hodgkin's disease for several years and it appeared that God was touching the depths of his soul. I wanted to hear about it.

We rode the several hours together from Estes Park to Denver. I listened with excitement at how God had invaded Rich's life in wonderful ways. We laughed, we cried, we rejoiced, we hoped, and we shared deeply together about the ways that God shows up in our lives. We agreed to pray for each other, confident that God had the future in his hands. We spent that evening and night at Ken Davis' home, the president of the workshop.

It was the next morning that it happened. Rich and I were gathering our bags to go to the airport and were saying good-bye to Ken. The three of us hugged, laughed and were walking to the car. I said, "Well Ken, take care." Rich was walking behind me and said, "Well Ken, be bold!" Ken laughed and responded, "Do you two realize you just told me to do opposite things?" Rich did. He knew exactly what he was saying. Through some very difficult years God has taught Rich that life requires a lot more "being bold" and a lot less "taking care."

I've thought a great deal about that little conversation. Every time I say "take care" to someone I think about it. And ever since that morning in Denver I have gotten increasingly frustrated with myself whenever those two words exit my mouth. It seems to me that God has not called us to draw back, to pull up our defenses, to guard ourselves, to be careful. But rather, He instructs us to "be bold," to live with aggressiveness, to take life by the tail and live it with the confidence Jesus possessed. Many of our problems are a result of protecting ourselves instead of living with a Godly abandon. By taking our eyes off of ourselves and our stuff (taking care) and marching with our eyes on Jesus (being bold) we can experience the presence of God in ever increasing measure.

Joshua heard it from the lips of God this way, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

That incident occurred 6 ½ years ago. Since then Rich has gone to Heaven. He lived the rest of his life boldly. I decided a long time ago to take Rich's advice to "Be bold!" And I'm done encouraging people to "Take care." It has taken a few years. Sometimes I've fallen back into that same old pattern of telling people to "Take care." I've often had to stop myself and change it to "Be Bold." But I think I've finally got it right.

As 2001 is upon us it is appropriate for me to encourage you to "BE BOLD!" God invites you to be a person of faith, to risk, to step out, to stretch, to trust God even when you can’t see what will happen when you do. People of God always live on the edge.

Will you? BE BOLD!

"So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"" Hebews 13:6 (NIV)

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