We had been waiting on the runway for almost an hour. Carrie Anne was restless to say the least, and I had about reached my limits of controlled patience traveling alone with my two-year-old. But I kept her quiet with promises of her grandparents’ lake home in just a few more hours.
The air traffic controllers across the nation had been threatening to strike for several days, and I was hoping it wouldn’t happen within the next few minutes. Even so, they were making their point with an ongoing slow down getting planes in the air at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Our captain, who had been keeping us up to date on our departure progress, announced one last comment on the intercom as we were finally cleared for takeoff:
“Well, we’ve got the go ahead from the control tower. Sorry about this long delay, folks. I really don’t have much confidence in these guys anyway.”
Oh great! All of us in the cabin stared wide-eyed at one another, voicing numerous nervous comments as the engines roared for take off. I placed my confidence in the Lord as I prayed for a safe liftoff and flight. And I’m sure many others did the same!
So many of our fears are based on a lack of confidence… in others… in ourselves. If we place too much confidence in another human being for leadership, for our well being, for our future, we are bound to be disappointed when the “earthly prop gives way.”
I can be my own worst enemy when my confidence starts to waver. Pretty soon the very thing I’m trying to avoid starts creeping into my reality. It’s that self-fulfilling prophecy that’s common to anyone with doubts. And if I keep on that path, it’s not long before I’m bringing others into my failed plans as we begin to swirl the drain.
On the other hand, confidence can be infectious too. As a teacher, as a parent, as a coworker, as a director, I know my confident encouragement propelled others to accomplish untold dreams. Even a confident “It’s going to be okay” “Things will work out” can calm fears and tamp down rising panic.
I have some favorite confident Scriptures. I love when Job said in the midst of all his suffering, “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). He confidently proclaimed that even though his earthly body would be destroyed, he knew he would see God face to face in his resurrected one.
There’s also the confidence of the apostle John when he is bold to proclaim the divinity and power of his Lord Jesus in his Gospels and Letters. And in his Revelation, in contrast to the scary events that are foretold, John resolutely proclaims the ultimate victory of Christ. No wonder we should be confident. We already know the outcome!
Not long ago I witnessed the installation of a new pastor at a nearby congregation. While the words of concern to be diligent, unwavering, and willing to faithfully serve were abundant, one phrase in the service rose above the others in a refreshing celebration. The pastor was asked, “Will you encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ?” (from the Lutheran Service Book Agenda) Not just encourage, not just confidence, but lively! Full of life! Animated, vigorous, fresh, stimulating!
I think of parties and children being lively. But I need to rethink this lively confidence. Of all people, we Christians should have confidence and display it. Oh, not because of anything in ourselves. That would be self-serving and arrogant. And dangerous! Who knows how quickly our own confidence will collapse when under attack?
But no! Our confidence is different from that of the world. “Such confidence we have through Christ before God“ (2 Corinthians 3:4).
Through Christ before God! We can stand before the throne of God knowing Jesus has made it all possible. He stands there with us, perfecting us so that we no longer display our stain of guilt.
And we, like Job and John, know the ending. We of all people have that lively confidence that challenges the darkness of this world with a message of hope and grace and love!