Humble but Bold: 2 Personal Lessons from God

trust the Lord

During seminary, and even as an undergraduate, I rarely raised my hand to ask a question or contribute to the discussion. When I did, my heart pounded hard and fast. Far from bold, I was afraid of being wrong or sounding stupid. I remained safely sponge-like, soaking in all the stuff.

Can you relate? Your response to my last post was near silence – ‘crickets’ as they say. We journeyed together through John 21’s miraculous catch and I asked you to contemplate and share. One lone cricket chirped.

I find comfort knowing the disciples ‘knew’ it was Jesus, but weren’t quite sure even after their miraculous catch:

None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jn 21:12

Uncertainty is OK. Here’s the thing:

Difficult things are often for our good.

When COVID forced virtual classes, the online structure required participation – contribute a personal contemplation about the assigned reading then respond to two or three other students. I had to shape my own assessment and share it… publicly! Yikes! However, by actively considering the readings, God led me to personally meaningful discoveries.

My own exploration last week compared the two miraculous catch stories from Luke before they became disciples and from John after the resurrection. God pointed me to the tremendous growth in the disciples’ humility – their willingness to follow the suggestion of a stranger. I paraphrase their indignant push back in Luke as “We’re professionals, mister. Don’t you think we know how to fish?” In John, they instead humbly try the stranger’s approach as in “We’re frustrated and tired, but what do we have to lose?”

God needed me to learn humility.

This week I’m struck that the disciples’ knew it was Jesus, yet dared not ask. A bit of word study shows that ‘knew’ means perceived by observing the evidence. The word is often translated ‘saw’ elsewhere but never for this verse. I think that’s because if they actually saw Jesus, they’d have no desire to question “Who are you?”

“None dared (or ventured) ask” indicates a lack of boldness caused by fear. It is often used when Jesus answers a question in such a way that no one dares asks another. Is this fear of being wrong? Fear of looking stupid? Fear of inciting Jesus’ anger?

I learned that if you have a question, odds are someone else has the same question. Still, I was never bold enough to ask. Neither are any of the disciples, even though all of them probably want to.

Something doesn’t sit quite right. The miracle could only be of the Lord, but they’re not 100% certain. In previous appearances, Jesus proved his identity by showing his scars. This time they don’t seem to recognize his physical appearance. They know they should know, but confirmation sure would be nice.

This is about trust, about recognizing Jesus even when He uses a different mode of communication.

Last week this story taught me the humility to realize I don’t have all the answers. This week God wants me to trust what I know is from Him and be bold.

Perhaps that’s because in a few days I’ll attend a writer’s conference with a boat load of published authors, editors, agents and publishers. I plan to seek interest in a project I believe God has called me to write. This story gives me confidence in the evidence I have seen. It helps knowing that others are probably asking the same question: Is this really God’s call?

These two relevant messages from the same story demonstrate God’s desire to speak to us personally. My hope is that the Bible study method shared in last week’s post teaches you one way to contemplate scripture independently rather than settle for a lesson meant for someone else.

Take the bold step. Click on any of the colored words in this post to explore scripture or revisit the Bible study method. Then share your questions and discoveries in the comments!

#SeedsofScripture #biblelesson #scripturestudy #readthebiblebetter #personalmessagefromGod


  1. Cindy Brennan on May 25, 2023 at 9:00 PM

    This reminds me of the question”would you recognize Jesus if he came back today?” If the disciples couldn’t recognize Him and they physically knew Him – how would we (I) possibly know it was Jesus.

    • CathyChung on May 26, 2023 at 10:25 AM

      Ah! You accepted the challenge. I too wonder if we’d recognize Jesus if He physically returned today. But I think He does show up physically in His people. We see Him all the time in the people around us being God’s hands and feet. This is how the disciples knew it was Jesus – by the miracle, the evidence of His glory. We have to follow what we strongly sense is His guidance, trusting Him. It will never contradict His character and miraculously (coincidentally) doors will open, people will enter our lives, ideas not our own will stretch us out of our comfortable faith.
      When Jesus himself returns the Bible says we’ll have no doubt about it – fanfare, trumpets, glory, etc.

  2. J.D. Wininger on May 26, 2023 at 5:10 AM

    Know that I’ll be praying for God’s leading as you boldly explore possibilities for this called work. In my own journey, I’m learning that we have to let God lead. My prayer will be that He puts His plan into the hearts of agents and publishers that He chooses to carry the message He’s placed on your heart forward. I’ll also be praying for the peace that every writer needs in knowing (see what I did here) that it works best when we allow Him to work His plan. We can’t always understand it, and we almost always want to leap ahead and make it happen in our time rather than His, but we can trust in faith that He will bring good. God’s blessings ma’am.

    • CathyChung on May 26, 2023 at 10:28 AM

      I try my best to always let God lead but He knows I’m imperfect. I’ve been praying as I prepare this week that if this is of Him, if I’m ready for this next step, that the message will be of interest to someone at the conference. It will only work if it is His plan and if I have matured to the place of being the messenger. I’m certainly passionate about it!
      Can’t wait to see you again. What are your goals? Which classes are you planning to take?

  3. Connie Wohlford on May 26, 2023 at 6:57 AM

    Cathy, I can certainly identify with you in similar situations.
    And yes, I second guess myself sometimes on hearing from God. Yet, sometimes I know that I know.
    One of the things I know is that God is patient and kind. He understands our limitations. On the other hand, because of that, He’ll sometimes allows us to feel the heat and be forced to show what we’re made of or our level of trust in Him.
    I pray that God leads you and helps you at the conference … and gives you peace.
    I look forward to seeing you there.

    • CathyChung on May 26, 2023 at 10:30 AM

      Thanks for that grace Connie. I am leaning on Him to lead this endeavor, put it on pause if I’m not ready or it’s not the right time, or bring it to a screeching halt. Trust. Bold. Obedience is success.
      I look forward to seeing you again. What are your goals for conference? How can I pray for you?

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