“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
This past weekend was spent up in the mountains of Arizona, in cooler temps, and with almost 500 women from my church. It never ceases to amaze me how crystal clear things in life can become when we remove ourselves from our everyday “mundane” and put ourselves in a new environment that is free from the distractions and busyness that we are used to. God’s whisper becomes a shout. His presence becomes nearly tangible. We spent the weekend talking about fear, talking about courage, and we walked away from the weekend making a choice.
Fear is a reality in this life, but it’s also a choice. We can choose to reject fear just as much as we can choose to embrace it. The choice is yours. The choice is mine. God wouldn’t command us to not be afraid if it wasn’t a choice. When you and I choose the path of fear, not only are we blatantly disobeying God’s command, we are willingly forfeiting courage.
One of the things I love most about this verse is its simplicity. No, I’m not suggestion that it’s easy to reject fear and to choose courage. What I am saying is that this verse isn’t hard to understand. It’s pretty straight forward, leaving little to no room for interpretation. It’s the “doing it” that gets tricky. God has given us a command here, and quite frankly, I don’t believe that He really gives us many suggestions in His Word. He gives us commands, which are always good and always for our good. And because this is a command and not a suggestion, it also implies that choosing courage in the face of fear is not impossible. God wouldn’t command us to do it if it were.
So, how do I choose courage in the face of fear? How do you? By choosing Christ. He IS our courage. To be Christ followers, to pick up our cross and follow Him, to passionately pursue the Lord, we must learn to come to the end of ourselves, to lay ourselves down, and to take up His life in return. This is an understanding that says, “I can’t be strong and courageous on my own, but I can in Christ.” Christ is our courage. The more we cling to Him, the more courageous we will be. Joshua understood this. How else would he have led the nation of Israel into their Promised Land? By faith, he was strong and courageous, and we can be, too. Why? Because we have the promise of God’s constant and steadfast presence wherever we go. And that is all we need.