Bolder than Expected: Women who Walk in God’s Presence

Sleeping in an African game park thrilled me as a young college graduate. My youthful stupidity allowed me to get out of the car alone and walk into a viewing deck that overhung a watering hole, where I observed zebra, wildebeest, and giraffe. Imagine my delight to see the king of the jungle up-close and dangerous.

We expect a lion to kill. It boldly prowls because it cannot hold back the insatiable desire to eat red meat. Yet, watching one lick a carcass put fear into my peaceful morning after a restful night of listening to a wildlife lullaby.

Lions are naturally bold, but why not Christian women? 

We say that God is omnipresent, and that we rely on His power,
so why don’t we experience a natural boldness when walking with Him?

Maybe you are like me and pray that God will allow us to walk boldly knowing that His powerful presence is with us, but when we begin to understand what He wants us to do, we cower like Moses and change our words from “Here I am” (Exodus 3:4) to “Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13).

Examples in the Bible help me see my own failures in this area. The Israelites cried out to God in whom they believed, but when He acted on their behalf, they were reluctant to follow. When God’s presence came near them at Mount Sinai and “everyone in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16 NIV), His power was overwhelming—yet they continued to go their own way.

Walking with God should be natural for Christian women as it was for Eve before she sinned and was removed from the garden. We may fear His presence, but with the gift of God’s grace through the redemption we find in Jesus, we have His presence and can boldly carry out His purposes for us. The woman at the well experienced Jesus’ presence as “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14 NIV). Once she met Jesus, she could not contain that living water, and she boldly shared her experience with her community.

Our faith will grow as we experience His presence living in us. We will begin to know His voice and obey it (John 10:27; 14:21). We’ll be aware when God allows us to influence others to know Him better. We’ll act because we’ll know He is speaking to us. In Acts 18, Priscilla (along with her husband, Aquilla) was not afraid to help Apollos understand “the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26), even though women were not customarily considered teachers at that time.

There is a difference between walking boldly in His presence and being foolishly brash.

Let’s not be boldly jeering like the teens who taunted God’s prophet, Elisha (2 Kings 2:23–24), or like Nabal, the man who would not feed the future King David (1 Sam. 25:4–17). Another bad example is Pharaoh, who very stubbornly but boldly opposed God and held tightly to his own control until he lost his own son.

To know the difference between humble boldness and foolish presumption, we’ll need to walk with Him daily and see how He ignites our passions to serve Him. We’ll become bolder than expected when we are filled with His uncontainable presence.

When Solomon dedicated the temple to God, he wisely understood that he could not contain God. He prayed, “"But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 NIV). Who can contain God? Well, none of us. Instead, God wants us to walk boldly in obedience to Him. 

He fills us with His presence so that we serve as on overflowing vessel for His purposes.

In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan very boldly took on what most people would consider a suicide mission, but with the presence of God, he prevailed. In verse 13 (NIV) we read, “Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.” He could not contain his desire to act bravely when he knew that God was with Him.

Esther went boldly before the king to save her people (Esther 4:15–16).

Peter was overwhelmed with God’s presence and stepped out of the boat to walk on water (Matt. 14:29).

Peter and John testified so boldly of Jesus that we read this about the Jewish leaders: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 NIV).

It was only on my drive home from the African game park that I realized that I had walked, with no protection, from my car through a chain-linked entryway in order to view the watering hole that morning. I shuddered to think that a wild baboon or even a lion might have been waiting at the end of that viewing deck.

Thankfully, God chose not to end my life that day, but I wonder how my leadership might change if I boldly walked in His presence each moment as if it were my last.

A helpful question to ask may be, “Does this boldness to act come from an earthly hunger like the lion’s or is it a God-given desire?”

Claudia Johnson, CWLC Leadership Consultant