On Sunday morning I dragged my weary self to church even though 1) I didn’t want to be around people, and 2) I knew that the first worship song would make me break out in the ugly cry. It is good advice to show up, especially when you don’t want to. I know this to be true, so I wrestled my weary heart into the assigned pew at 9:58am.
The Pastor preached out of one of my very favorite passages- Joshua chapter 1.
After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.
I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea[a] in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua’s Charge to the Israelites
Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel, “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
As the Pastor preached through this section, I was captured by the promises God set before Joshua.
He promised to give him victory.
He promised to be with him.
He promised that no one could stand against him.
He promised not to fail him.
He promised not to abandon him.
These promises breathed life back into my weary heart this morning. The same God who called Joshua, has also called me to live out my faith, to follow Him even in difficulty, and to find victory in Him alone.
He promised me the power to live victoriously. To live a life of faith, hope, and love in the midst of the difficulties of my every day life.
He promised to be with me as I walk. To be in my relationships, my work and home life, and in the quiet places in my heart no one else knows about.
He promised that my life belongs to Him alone. He is my Good Shepherd and even in this dark valley, I will fear no evil.
He promised not to fail me. To meet me in the midst of the darkness and be my light. I don’t always need Him to fix it, sometimes I just need to see Him in the midst of it.
He promised not to abandon me here, but to stay with me and guide me through this difficult time.
Once God’s promises, began to sink in, I looked for His Commands…
Be strong and courageous
Be strong and very courageous
Be careful to obey the Law-
don’t deviate from it, study it, meditate on it, and do it
Be strong and courageous
Do not be afraid or discouraged
God’s commands to Joshua are very direct. Be strong and courageous times three! I need some strong and courageous… right now I just want to give up and give in. But there is a command here. Not to feel it, but to do it. Be Strong… Be Courageous… Do not be afraid… Do not be discouraged. I need all of these things, but I want them as a gift. I want them as a feeling dumped by the bucketful from heaven. This is a command to act. To be. To simply do it.
Couched in the midst of these commands for courageous action and strong leadership, is a focus on His Word. Be careful to obey the law. Attend to it. Don’t deviate to the left or the right. Stay true, study it, meditate on it, and live it. Maybe this is the heart of these commands. To allow the Word of God to strengthen me, to meditate on it, to study it, to let it take up residence in my heart. Maybe this is what empowers me to Be strong.. to Be courageous… to not be afraid.. or give way to discouragement.
What promises are you holding on to today?
Which commands are you struggling with?