Churchill knew a great deal about the ups and downs of circumstances. He once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
It’s a truth that Joshua would have understood. Right at the outset of his time of leadership comes this statement:
‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 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.’”
How do you go forward into the promises of God? How do you begin to go into all that God has for you? This word in Joshua 1 is a powerful encouragement to do just that. How I need that “Courage to continue”!
It begins with this secret dialogue between God and Joshua. It starts with the end of an old way of life and the beginning of something radically new.
“Are you ready for what I have for you?”
And then comes the oft-repeated phrase: “Be courageous.” Is it the insistence on something that Joshua lacked?
Do you remember the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz? He possessed the aptitude but not the attitude of courage. It was there in him, all along, waiting to be evoked.
It’s an interesting quality. Aristotle said that too little equals cowardice –a pulling back from crisis and decision-; but that too much of it equals recklessness- a going ahead without due thought and attention. It’s not the absence of fear, but the determination to proceed whether afraid or not. It can be physical courage, in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or the threat of death; or moral courage in the face of popular opposition, shame or discouragement.
So when God called Joshua to be “very courageous,” I guess he had all of the above in his mind!
Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17: “I do not pray that you take them out of the world but that you keep them within the world.” I believe that that “keeping” power is the en-courage-ment of God’s ongoing presence. “I AM –with you”. The only way to avoid conflict is to be out of the world completely! But if we are in the world, then we need his keeping power. And that’s what Joshua was promised.
Lord, there are things for me to do.
Help me to grasp the nettle and go forward.
I would be neither reckless nor cowardly
Be with me today!