Regaining the swagger

Swagger: To carry oneself–walking, talking, daily activities–with an attitude of confidence, even boldness.

Here is our Scripture for today, class:

“Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear them. The Lord is with you. Since God is for us, who can be against us? I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”

There!  That’ll put the iron in your backbone, Christian.

Three quick little incidents need relating here….

–A year or two ago, while driving across several states to a meeting, I pulled off the interstate and into a gas station.  After filling up, I strode into the store for a restroom break or a soft drink. A woman on the sidewalk watched as I approached the front door and said, “You walk with a swagger.”  I smiled at that and said nothing.

Later, I wondered what exactly it meant. No one had ever said that to me.  Was she picking up on my confidence, perhaps? As a rule, I have an abundance of that, methinks.

–My oldest son was on a mission to a European country with a group from our church and the local seminary. This being his second such trip, he was excited and having a great time.  Suddenly, while exiting a city train, he was bumped by several people as the crowd flowed by. A moment later, he realized his pocket had been picked. He lost his billfold and his passport. The train moved on and there he stood.

It all worked out. The missionary host accompanied him as they reported the theft to the police, then they ran the gamut at the American Embassy to replace the passport in record time. The team members made up the money he had lost.

Even though things were working out for him, it was clear my son was badly shaken by this and demoralized. His self-confidence had taken a hit.

In a note to him via the internet, I said, “Son, I’m praying you will get your swagger back.”

His confidence, his joy in the Lord, his dead-sure sense of God’s presence and purpose in all these things.

Swagger is what it looked like when the Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”  Swagger is how it sounded when the early apostles said, “Whether it is right to listen to you more than to God, you judge. But we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard!” (Acts 4:19-20)

–I’ve written on these pages of the recent sudden death of my wife of nearly 53 years.  This has been the greatest shock of my life and the trauma of it has shaken me severely.  And I’ve noticed something strange in recent days, something so totally out of character for me:  While walking on the streets or in stores, I find I’m no longer looking people in the eye.  I’m staring at the floor, wanting to talk to no one, hoping no one will recognize me.  I don’t feel like engaging strangers in conversation.

I have lost my swagger.

And frankly, I miss it. I love walking with my head held high, my eyes roaming to see who is in the place, and making idle chat with strangers.  The laughter of a child delights me so I tell the father how wonderful it is and that I hope he will record it since the day will quickly arrive when he’ll miss it.  I compliment the checkout person, and assist the elderly.

But without the confidence and boldness of the Spirit, I do none of those things. So long as I am withdrawn into my sadness and allowing the heartache to call the shots, my soul seems to die a little more each day.  And that must not happen.

“Lift up your head!” (Psalm 24:7,9).

Football coaches tell their players, “When the score is against you and the game is winding down, I do not want to see you sitting on the bench looking discouraged. Get your head up.  Take that towel off your head.  The game is not over yet.  Let’s show some confidence.”

The early critics of the Lord’s disciples did not quite know what to do with them. “When they saw the boldnes of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. Then they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

The only way they could explain the confidence of those believers, their swagger, was Jesus.

Want to see a fellow get a good dose of Jesus-swagger?  Go to John chapter 9 quickly.

He’s a blind fellow, blind from birth, we’re told.  Possibly a beggar. But when the Lord heals him and gives him the gift of sight, it completely transforms the man.  It’s almost funny to watch him engage the bigshots of his day in conversation about Jesus.  “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.  It’s just that simple.”

He was telling what Jesus did.

Everyone debated what all this meant about Jesus, so finally someone asked the sighted fellow. “He’s a prophet!” A man on a mission from Heaven. God’s agent.

No question about it.

Now, his parents were a little more cautious in responding to the investigators.  They’d lived long enough to know that around some people you tread softly. But their newly sighted son had no such reservations.

He is giddy with his new sight and all it represents.

Critics said to him, “Give God the glory! This man is a sinner.”  To that, the fellow had an answer. “A sinner?  That’s not for me to say. But one thing I can tell you: I once was blind but now I see!”

When they kept pestering him to explain how it all happened, the fellow boiled over. “I told you already and you didn’t listen.  Why do you want to hear again?  Do you want to become his disciples too?”

No one had ever talked to the authorities with such insolence.  They grumbled, “You may be His disciple, but not us.  We are Moses’ disciples.  As for Jesus, we don’t know where He’s from.”

That was just too much. The newly sighted man said, “Well, now. Here we have a marvelous thing–that you do not know where Jesus is from!  And yet He opened my eyes.  One thing we all know is that God does not hear the prayer of sinners. But if someone worships God and does His will, He hears them.  And since the world began it has never been heard of that a person opened the eyes of a man born blind.  If he were not from God, he could do nothing!”

An open and shut case.

You have to love this fellow who stood up to the authorities.  They had arguments, but he had a testimony.  They knew their rules but he knew Jesus Christ.

And that will put the swagger in a fellow any time day or night.

Thank you, Lord, for the boldness of the Holy Spirit. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you….” (Acts 1:8).

1 thought on “Regaining the swagger

  1. I am not afraid of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation of EVERYONE who believes. Romans 1:16
    Swagger for those who believe!

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