Recently God called me away to that sacred space where He saturates His children with a certain theme, like waves washing gently, recurrently over our hearts’ shores, doing their softening, changing work.
…I love this place–something in His holy persistence; His insistence to connect me with life giving truth blesses, reminds me of my unequivocal value to Him…
As my husband and I listened to a Daily Audio Bible podcast I was transported, a familiar Scripture spoken over me…
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
In this space two things grabbed at my heart—evidence of the Holy Spirit at His wondrous work. First, His holy highlighter illuminated a word for me to ponder anew: “Command.” Having spent the past season marinating in the idea of obedience, I was instantly intrigued.
Not only is strong and courageous advisable in the face of whatever life throws at us, it’s a command. Leaving little wiggle room for those of us that are anxiety prone. As children of the King, we’ve simply no business with doubt and his friend, fear; in fact forbidden from entertaining either.
Yet I cannot tell you how many hours, days, years of my life I’ve wasted, slaving in disobedience to this command…Lord, that I would live out the faith-filled existence like Abraham…
“By faith Abraham, when called to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)
Isn’t that what faith is? Confidence in the face of not knowing? And all because of Him?
Which leads me to the “for”, and my second awakening as I sat soaking in Joshua 1. These seemingly insignificant connecting words are often laden with meaning:
“…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Here’s the thing—I mentioned my propensity toward anxiety. In the same vein, I’ve wrestled considerably in my life to forgo control…letting go has never been my strong suit. Which, I’ve discovered over the years, really boils down to a savior complex. Playing God. Who I most certainly am NOT.
It comforts me, however, to know I’m in good company; Moses himself shared my all-up-in-my-own-head malfunction. When God commissioned him with emancipating the Israelites and setting them on course to the Promise Land, he returned, “Who am I?”
Well now, that was the wrong question, wasn’t it?
The answer that would lead the people into their inheritance, (and the answer to every thing both then and today) lay not in “Who am I?” but in the Great I AM.
As John Maxwell puts it, “Moses was trying to do everything himself–a recipe for failure in leadership.” John Maxwell, read by Wayne Shepherd, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. Thomas Nelson Audio, 2011.
Going back to Joshua, in all fairness, the young, inexperienced leader had a lot to be afraid of at first glance, with Moses passing on, thereby passing the baton. After all, God reiterates the strong and courageous command four times in the space of 18 verses! However a closer look reveals Joshua actually had a lot to be strong and courageous about. Just listen to the way these verses drip with God’s promises:
“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ … ‘Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’” Joshua 1:1-9, 13 (NIV)
I get Joshua’s trepidation, though. As a 27-year-old expecting my first child, I was straight terrified. At the weight of the tremendous assignment that lay before me. At the stakes—her tiny life in my frighteningly imperfect hands. I remember wondering, just HOW? And pleading with my Father (soon to be my daughter’s Father) for His help; direction; peace.
In my desperation He directed me to this same Scriptural command, specifically this portion: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” He was calling my pregnant, precarious self to strength and courage–to action. To unbridled trust in the One Who promised He would never leave my side.
For I was to lead this tiny person. And the answer to my how lay squarely in Him.
Take it from someone who knows: even the most “who am I” oriented among us are capable of living strong and courageous. Of pressing forward despite our severe lacking, emboldened by HIM alone–His rock solid promise to be with us wherever we go.