I think it’s been 3 weeks since we’ve connected here. 3 weeks!??! I wonder how many of us are having the same experience; our schedules are overflowing, and some very good, very important things are forced to wait. As we know too well, saying yes to something means saying no to many others. Having said that, I’m happy to say yes to this space today.
In Joshua 1:5, God says, “I will not fail you or abandon you.”
Then, in verses 6, 7, and 9, God says, respectively, “Be strong and courageous,” “Be staring and very courageous,” and “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Verse 9 ends with “For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
And one more, in the middle, verse 8, “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night.”
Now, why am I simply listing Bible verses from the book of Joshua about violently conquering the Promised Land? Clouds have to be seen & observed before they can be tied together in 2022.
Joshua is told to be “strong and courageous” 3 times, bookended by promises that God would be with him, that Joshua would not be alone. Where does our strength begin and end? Where do we root our strength and courage? Where, in Whom, is our faith? These passages tell us that before we can stand, we know why and for Whom we are standing. We don’t stand in our own power, we find this strength and courage in Him.
It’s interesting, each time we are commanded to do anything, those commands begin & end with a promise from God. He acts first, decisively, mercifully. We can stand in strength and courage because we are not alone, because He is with us, because He will not abandon us.
We see this in the 10 commandments (before any command, He reminds us that He rescued us first) and the Beatitudes (before any command, Jesus announces that the “poor in spirit” are “blessed”), among many, many other examples.
It’s cool, right?
And in the middle of all of this, there is a reminder to study/meditate on Scripture. When things (storms, attacks, monsters) require strength and courage, we are easily distracted by the size of our fear, or the overwhelming nature of our enemy, or the desperate perception of impossibility. This seems like an invitation to focus (on the beginning & end, on the why or the because.)
Begin with God’s faithfulness. End with God’s faithfulness. Persevere in/with God’s guidance. And throughout, do the things. Show up. Stand. Speak. Risk. Take shots. Shine. Be strong and courageous.
So much of the Law is about here, now, today (even though we might not see it in the middle of ancient practices and outdated cultural norms). The Law is evidence that what we do matters. And not only does it matter, it affects our hearts. The spirit & physical body are inextricably tied. The Old Testament commands address our actions because we can often behave into new ways of living. This is why taking care of our bodies is so important. Taking care of our bodies is taking care of our spirits & souls.
That’s why rest, what we eat, and how we build altars or offer sacrifices are so important to God. It’s why we take days (or 3 weeks;) off or take slow morning walks or long family dinners. It’s why we do our jobs with integrity and character. It’s why we volunteer and coach youth sports. It’s why we call, why we hold, why we step, why we go, why we send heart emojis or tell each other we love them. Did you ever wonder why there are so many pages of maddeningly detailed instructions in the Bible? What we do matters. Everything matters.
We’re not earning anything anymore or bolstering our spiritual resumes in order to buy God’s acceptance or love. We already have all of that, we always have. But we do the things because through them, we walk out our faith, we respond to the boundless love that has been poured onto/into us, and we live out this radical design for life. We show our hope.
And that will take courage and strength.
And that will take reminders why and practices of focus.
And that will take Jesus.