Photo by Justin Leibow
Talk about having big shoes to fill.
The legacy of Moses was huge. He led God’s people for forty years, through the desert, to the edge of the Promised Land. The goal of the Israelites, just beyond Mount Nebo, where Moses stood to look at what could have been his. (But, don’t feel too bad for Moses. He also penned the Pentateuch, authored the very law that Jews are called to live by and Jesus fulfilled, turned a stick into a cannibalistic serpent, and, oh yeah, that whole business of personally meeting God at the burning bush and on the mountain and being in constant contact with Him over forty years…)
Still, Moses missed his final calling through being a bit too full of himself. Getting water from the rock by smacking it twice with his rod instead of speaking to it (as God instructed Moses) was a bit too much for the Lord.
All the same, he held a very impressive resumé. Doing Moses’ job would be a daunting task at best for anyone (especially a privileged, stuttering murderer on the run like Moses). Say what you want about his later mistakes, Moses was obviously no weakling. At 120 years old, he could still climb a mountain. “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deuteronomy 34:7, ESV). If I live to be anywhere near that old and can sit up in bed and chew anything harder than pudding, I will be astounded.
Joshua was up for the job. He was wise. He was faithful. He had been Moses’ military leader. And, now that Moses’ light was dimming, the time had come to pass the torch of leadership. When Moses announced his successor to the Israelites, he told them to “be strong and courageous” (Deut. 31:6). Then, when he brought Joshua up to join him in front of the people, he repeated the same admonition to the new leader: “Be strong and courageous” (Deut. 31:7).
When Moses died, God had a little talk with Joshua, instructing him on what to do. And God told Joshua, “Be strong and of hood courage” (Joshua 1:6).
Then He repeated it again: “Only be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:7).
And, just in case Joshua didn’t pick up on the message having heard it twice from Moses and twice directly from God, the LORD said it one more to mind, to hammer the message home: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous…: (Joshua 1:9).
And, indeed, when Joshua addressed the Israelites, they responded in part with – you guessed it – “Only be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:18).
And what God asked them to do had the potential to make the Israelites look like they were nutty that a squirrel’s nest. “Silently march around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days. Then on the seventh time, march around it seven times – six times with the priests blowing trumpets, but the seventh yelling at the top of your lungs. On the seventh trip of the seventh day, the city walls will collapse and Jericho will be yours.”
What if Joshua had said, “Do what? We’ll look like fools. Can’t you just drop fire from on high or something like that?” The fact of the matter is that God knew what He was doing.
And He still knows what He is doing.
So often we let fear rules our lives. Fear clouds our decisions, derails our dreams, feeds our obedience. We allow ourselves to be informed by the anxieties of the possibility of perceived failure and calamity instead of resting in faith in the eternal and immeasurable greatness and might of Almighty God our Father.
Fear absolutely wrecks creativity. And God’s plans for the Israelites in defeating Jericho and Ai were creative to say the very least. It is as if God is saying, “I know it makes no sense to you. Do it anyway, because I said to.”
God probably won’t stand right in front of you and say, “Do this.” However, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. He guides us. He helps us. He intercedes for us. We can pray to God at any time with the full assurance that He knows our needs far better than we do. He is faithful when we are not. He is loving when we struggle with love. He is there 24/7. We need only draw nearer to Him for Him to draw nearer to us.
It takes faith. Not in our own abilities, but in God’s. Faith enables strength and courage and allows us to boldly do whatever God has called us to do. The Israelites didn’t knock down the walls of Jericho. God did.
So, the next time you have an idea but trash it because it’s too far out there; the next time you produce a work of art or write something but refuse to share your creativity for fear of looking bad / dumb / inferior; the next time you refuse to speak up because the majority may criticize – or even ostracize – you; the next time you feel ill-equipped for your call; swallow hard, pray harder, and put on the big shoes. If they don’t fit, don’t worry. You will grow into them with every step you take in obedience to Christ.
Be strong and courageous.
Be strong and courageous.
Only be strong and courageous.
Thank you for reading this piece from The Bouville Diarist. Please feel free to share this message with anyone you feel might be blessed by this encouragement. Also, please visit the Bouville Diarist blog at http://www.bouvillediarist.com. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google, LinkedIn or Tumblr. Or drop an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you! God bless, Chris – a.k.a. The Bouville Diarist