Sunday, September 19, 2010


I underlined the verse in the first chapter of Joshua, years ago: "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go. " God's people are preparing to enter into the promised land when they receive this command and blessing; they are going on a venture.

Adventuring (ad=to/toward, venire=to go) is when we need good courage. What the children of Israel were going toward was something ultimately good; something promised by God, a land of milk and honey, a place for their families to dwell. But it was also the unknown, and it was a land of strangers and enemies, and it was a place they would have to tear down and re-build. It would take much work. It was daunting.

Life is a lot. It is a lot of good and a lot of work. Even the things that we know are good, and that we know we should do, do not in themselves inspire us to great actions and bravery and persistence in them. Life is also a lot of unknown. There are giants. There will be battles. There are places we know God wants us to go, which contain things that we know nothing of.

This week is my adventure. The land seems vast; the giants sound large; the fruit and honey and milk sound good but not very attainable and frankly sometimes only some of them sound very tasty. I don't have a lot of confidence right now in myself and what I can accomplish. I don't even have a lot in the people around me.

In Psalm 31:24 we are encouraged, "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord." What is the progression of this? We are to be of good courage (command), and He shall strengthen our heart (result of that courage), and the command is given to the hoping-in-the-Lord (state of being). As God's people, we know He will give us 'a hope and a future' but getting that strength in our hearts doesn't automatically happen. It looks like we are to exercise our faith in order to grow more of it, or in order for it to get from our heads to our hearts. He does great works for us, we trust and have courage, and He does further good things for us.

I need confidence - to do "with faith" - this week. I know that if I don't, things will just spiral downwards. I guess I tend to wish He would do all of the strengthening before I have to put myself on the line and obey with courage and faith. I know (head knowledge) that He is with me wherever I go, and I know that the people I lean on are supportive of me; but I want tangible, tastable signs of it. I want the signs that He puts into the world, that people (His instruments) bring.

I want worded signs: words that smile, words that give health to the bones, words that bring life, words that feed and water and nurture. I want tactile signs: touch of strength, touch of sympathy, touch of leadership, touch of friendship. I want mirrored signs: faces that give Christ to me by their countenance, and that give themselves, and that receive me, with expressions that change, eyes that crinkle and mouths that burst with laughter, and even words that slice with strong corrective medicine. I want these signs today.

Sometimes I wish I weren't so dependent on other parts of humanity. We are all too imperfect for one another to lean on. And I wish I had more courage for the stepping out there and knowing you're doing the right thing; stepping out without worrying that you're still a few steps up and are going to drop to a hard and unpleasant bump; stepping out and knowing that someone will catch you when you mess up and trip 5 steps into the dance.

God is worthy of that hope, that courage. O soul, that is enough. Adventure. Step. Fide. He is there.

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