Thursday, March 5, 2009

How To Be Brave...

Beginning a great book is always exciting. The anticipation of where the story will go and how its protagonists and antagonists will behave and respond, as well as how everything ends, motivates me to turn each page as long as the drama isn't bogged down by uninteresting plot lines or boring characters.

The story of Joshua, although not a work of fiction, is filled with intrigue and suspense, and is definitely a page turner. The children of Israel are poised to move into the Promised Land with God's blessing. Joshua, Moses' replacement, has been chosen by God to lead them with this specific reminder: be strong and courageous.

In the face of whatever situations he might encounter, God clearly expresses more than once that Joshua will need to exercise his courage and strength in order to accomplish the mission he's facing. That alone is a hint that the children of Israel aren't going to just mosey into Canaan and say, "Howdy, how about you people go ahead and move on out now if you wouldn't mind."

Chapters 1 through 4 set the stage for a compelling saga that is filled with lessons and reminders to us all these years later.

God explained to Joshua in the opening sentences of chapter 1 that everywhere they stepped foot would become their possession--in other words, he was giving them the entire land. But, what they actually took possession of would be the result of their determination to face enemy opposition.

The Lord could have instantly eliminated all of their enemies and turned the land over to them without conflict, but instead, he invited them into a partnership with him that would require their effort and willingness to press on no matter what, and he does the same with us today. It seems to me this would suggest that God's prescription for their victory is also the prescription for ours when we are facing obstacles, struggles, enemies and difficulties.

Verses 6 through 9 of Chapter 1 tell us exactly what God said to Joshua that day: “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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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.”

When my children were young, one of my daily prayers for them was a verse from Isaiah chapter 30. Verse 21 says: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

I asked God to always provide direction for their paths and that is also my prayer for you, because just as he did with the children of Israel, our Heavenly Father invites us to partner with him in this adventure called life. God's children encountered opposition and difficulty then--and so will we today. But when we remember his challenge to Joshua, our path will be paved with His continued presence as we walk in step with his lead.

We do ourselves and our Lord a tremendous disservice when we forget that it is by studying His "book of instruction" that we are equipped to face life's challenges, and from experience I know that it is then and only then that we're genuinely able to remain strong and courageous enough to fearlessly face the challenges that would prevent us from experiencing the "promised land" he has for us.

Father, order my steps and give me a passionate desire to pursue understanding of your Word, your book of instruction, so that my life is led by you alone--and then, whether I turn to the right or to the left, may my ears hear Your voice behind me saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment