"Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need." - Hebrews 4:16
In the spring of 2006, I went before a Sergeant promotion board during my Army days. I had previously performed a number of activities and trained in various ways to qualify myself for the position of Sergeant, which is the Army's entry-level promotion to being a leader of other soldiers. I had to improve my physical fitness scores, take a number of training classes on leadership and Army knowledge, and receive a number of commendations (or awards).
But going before the promotion board was a frightening notion. We had heard stories of steely-eyed leaders grilling candidates on their knowledge of obscure Army matters. Some boards made certain soldiers recite the Soldier's creed while breaking down their M16 rifle at the same time. Every answer a soldier would give would be scrutinized heavily to test that soldier's confidence and resolve. In short, the name of the game was readiness and confidence.
My book knowledge wasn't so great. I did not spend as much time memorizing facts and definitions as I should have. My uniform was clean and my boots were shined well enough, but if someone had taken a ruler to my ribbons and medals, I wouldn't have received full marks.
But when my time came to enter the room, I knocked loudly three times, and it was like a switch went off in my head. I became the sergeant who would own that room and everyone in it. I walked in with broad steps, snapped a salute and let my voice boom out: "Specialist Cyre reporting to the commander of the board!"
They attempted to grill me on a number of matters. Some of my answers were correct. Some of them were wrong. But even on the ones that were wrong, I offered them with such confidence as though I had written the book on the matter.
Finally, Sergeant Major Johnson stopped all further questions and looked at me. "Specialist Cyre. Stand and sing to us the American national anthem."
Inside I was nervous and confused. I certainly didn't expect it. I hesitated only a second before belting out the Star-Spangled Banner before a board of amused non-commissioned officers.
Once I was done, the Sergeant Major added, "You are a Canadian citizen, Specialist?" I answered with a loud yes. He replied, "Now sing us the Canadian national anthem."
Once I finished, the Sergeant Major dismissed me so that the board could talk about me behind my back. After a few hours all five promotion candidates were called back into the room. Sergeant Major Johnson recognized me with a Sergeant Major's coin, an award he would occasionally give to those who performed above and beyond the call of duty. I was awarded a perfect score of 150 and recommended for promotion, which occurred later that fall.
I tell you this story not so that I can brag about the old days. Rather, the verse above reminds me of something we often forget when it comes to seeking God for solutions in our lives. We are instructed to approach the throne of grace with confidence. Our lives are often messy and complicated. We frequently find ourselves in turbulent waters and do not possess the skills to navigate through them. We are in great need of His mercy and grace.
And we are to approach Him seeking that mercy, not timidly with cap in hand but with confidence. Not rudeness or harshness, but confident, knowing that God is ALWAYS going to do what He promises in His word.
So, if you find yourself drowning in rough waters today, take comfort in knowing that you serve a God of mercy and grace, and you are not just allowed to approach Him for help, but you are commanded to do so with great confidence, knowing that He always makes good on promises given.