For several years, Joshua 1:9 was a verse that we repeatedly shared with one of our sons. He was, according to one of his teachers, an anxious student. Most mornings before school, we would try to remind him of Joshua 1:9. Whilst sitting down to spend a few moments with the Lord on Tuesday, the words of Joshua 1:9 began to rattle around in my head. The verse reads:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
The Lord spoke those words to Joshua as He tasked Joshua with the job of leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Earlier, in Deuteronomy 31, the Lord had told Moses and Joshua that the people would forsake the Lord. I would think knowing that, combined with the momentous challenge involved with the coming conquest, would have given reason for Joshua to be frightened or dismayed. God seems to be aware of that possibility. But that is not where God wanted Joshua to stay. In calling Joshua to a big mission, He was also calling Joshua to be strong and courageous. The reason for that call was not one of military necessity or situational leadership. The call for courage was based on the presence of God with Joshua. That may be a truth we need to be reminded of again and again. When God is present, we should be impacted. It should move us to a place of strength and courage. That is not a quick move for me. When fear or dismay knocks, I do not answer with courage and strength. I tend to be overwhelmed by the long shadow cast by fear.
As I ponder Joshua 1:9, I need to realize that God’s presence is a bright light that eradicates the shadow of fear. When He is present, He brings Himself and all His resources to help us. Joshua had a huge task in front of him, but Joshua had God with him. I do not know all the things that might cause you or me to be frightened or dismayed. But if we have trusted the Lord Jesus alone to be our Savior, we have the presence and power of the resurrected Savior with us. That may not change our circumstances. Things around us may create scenarios for the dreaded knock of fear on our doors. But we can answer those knocks with God. God’s presence injects courage into us to face what is around us. Just like I had boldness as the smallest kid in the neighborhood park when my oldest brother was with me, God’s presence offers us a boldness to engage in the mission God is sending us to this week. Please rejoice with me in God’s presence!