Obeying the call of God in my life was both inspiring and at the same time frightening.
I felt led to be an entrepreneur. My interests, skills, aspirations, and personality pointed towards owning and running my own business. Others that I knew encouraged me. Deep down, I knew the path that God had laid before me.
But still – part of me was afraid. The risk of failure was intimidating. I struggled with wanting to just “sell out” and take a comfy, safe job in the workforce somewhere.
A Timely Word
Around this time, I happened to read the story of Joshua transitioning into the leadership of Israel. Moses had taken the Israelites right to the boundaries of the promised land – but it was Joshua who would lead them in the battles to claim that territory.
Joshua and the Israelites knew the victory that lay before them. But they also were aware of the struggles and the warfare that they would face.
They needed some words of encouragement.
One More Time?
Realizing the Israelites would soon begin their military campaign, Moses says to the people: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
The very next verse, Moses speaks specifically to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous” and “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)
A few verses later, God Himself speaks to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.” (Deuteronomy 31:23)
Almost immediately after that, Moses dies. God reminds Joshua: “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:5-7)
Two verses later, God continues to speak to Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
A few verses later, the Israelites declare their loyalty to Joshua and have one word of encouragement for him: “Only be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:18)
After victory in an early battle, Joshua concludes with words to Israel: “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 10:25)
A Needed Word
The recurring theme of these passages is striking. In just two chapters of the Bible, the phrase “be strong and courageous” pops up seven times.
In my time of need, each repetition had a visceral impact – kinda like the repeated body blows from a boxer – only they gave me strength instead of pain.
But why is there this repetition?
It’s not due to ancient writing styles or dry translations.
It’s because God knew these were words that Joshua and the Israelites needed to hear repeatedly.
Obedience Is Sometimes Intimidating
We can know with every fiber of our being that God exists and that he will be with us every step of the way. Even when the Israelites were promised victory, the struggle was unnerving.
Make no mistake – going from understanding God’s calling to fulfilling God’s calling is not an automatic, easy path. It takes effort. It takes discipline. Even more than that, you will struggle emotionally with doubt and fear.
Whoever said that following our God-given ambitions would be lead to neverending feelings of inspiration and empowerment?
We risk failure and ridicule. We risk losing major investments of time and money. We risk hardship. We risk loneliness. We risk a feeling of worthlessness.
We need to be reminded – all the time – that God is with us. Just like the Israelites, we need to hear this truth repeatedly.
Are you struggling with fear and doubt as your run the race that God has given you?
Be strong and courageous!
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