God's Confidence Course
John Telgren

I did very well through the whole obstacle course. Two more obstacles left, and I had passed all of them with flying colors. I now had to swing across the water hanging from a rope. The rope that got thrown to me from the other side was shaking, I leaned forward, then hesitated. That was a mistake. I lost my balance. Splash! I felt like such an idiot. I fell in and hadn't even tried to jump for the rope. I went on to the last obstacle, soaking wet and slimy. It looked easy enough. Monkey bars across the water. The bars were much bigger around than normal. It would have been easy if I had not been soaking wet and slimy. I made it half way across and my hands slipped. Splash! Argh! Fell in again! Fortunately, I had only failed two of the obstacles. Any more, and I would have failed the whole course. Afterwards, we lined up in formation to head back. There were only five that were wet, and I was one of them.

Looking back on that day, I have to say it was one of the days I enjoyed basic training. In fact, most of us felt the same way about the obstacle course. The Air Force called it the "confidence course." I suppose it was supposed to help build confidence. Many of us wanted to do it again. However, we all passed it, so no one had to go and do it over again.

Confidence. Where does it come from? It seems that it comes from experience. I am not sure confidence can come from a manual, a book, or any other such thing. Confidence comes from putting what you know into practice. Scriptures affirm this principle. For instance, look at this passage:

"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him" (1 Jn 3:16-19).

Putting love into practice will assure our hearts before our Lord. Assurance is another word for confidence. This confidence only comes not when we read about, expound upon, illustrate, or do word studies on love, but when we put it to practice in deed and in truth. Our assurance comes both from knowing God's truth and from practicing truth.

However, unlike the word's version of confidence, our confidence is not ultimately self-confidence. Paul said "for we are the {true} circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil 3:3). Our assurance, confidence, and faith is in our Lord, because our adequacy comes ultimately from God (2 Cor 3:5). So it is not ultimately self-confidence, but God-confidence that we have. He is at work in us (Phil 2:13), and as we submit to his will and put it into practice in this "confidence course" of life, he forms us, molds us, and transforms us as we grow in confidence.