I recently celebrated a birthday and was blessed to be reminded of a special scripture on that day.  You see, one Bible reading strategy I like to use is to read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the date on the monthly calendar.  So, with that trend, I often read Proverbs 28 on my birthday, December 28.

The proverb has become special to me.  But more significant than its correspondence to my birthday is its meaning to my heart.  The chapter opens with a scripture that has taught me so much through the years.

“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1, NKJV). Even though I’ve pondered on this verse often and even taught and preached on it several times, the Holy Spirit made the message fresh to me again last week as I read.

Its message is particularly applicable as we head into the new year, especially when we pair it with a companion scripture in Proverbs 30.  In that proverb, the writer reflects on how a lion is “mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any” (v. 30).  I love that thought!  The lion doesn’t back down from any challenger that comes his way. Neither should we! The righteous are bold as a lion!

The New International Version of Proverbs 30:30 reads that the lion “retreats before nothing.” Have you ever started to move toward fulfilling God’s plans in your heart only to retreat along the way? Unfortunately, I can think of several times that I’ve started to step out in faith but retreated when the challenges got real.

For instance, I distinctly remember a time when I first desired to step into school administration. There was an administrator opening in the school in which I worked, and I decided to apply.  However, on my way to the office to submit my application, I lost my nerve, turned away, and never turned it in. Eventually, God opened other doors and I was able to take the step into a leadership role.  But I’ll always remember how I initially retreated out of fear and timidity.

We must remember this truth: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV).  You may feel led to share an encouraging word with someone, but you feel awkward sharing it. You may feel led to mentor others young in their faith, but you feel inadequate and don’t know what to do. Well, don’t retreat; God will help you!

Sometimes, we think we have to have it all figured out before we even start, but we don’t. We just have to keep moving forward and believe God will teach us along the way.

Don’t you dare back down from the dreams God has put in your heart! Don’t you dare back down from the opportunity God has placed in your path! Don’t you dare back down from the unexpected challenge that has come your way!  Be like a lion and face the challenges head on. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NAS).

We can’t control what will happen in 2022, but we can control how we will respond.  And we need to make up our minds that we won’t back down from any challenge that comes our way.  God has equipped us for this time!  Let’s step up to the challenge and not back down.  Don’t retreat from the plans God has for you!