“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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 not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8 and 9
I wrote these verses out on an index card and hung them above the light switch in my bedroom the last semester before I graduated from high school. I thought the first part meant that if I stayed in the Word and kept all the rules, my life would be pretty great. I had a lot to learn. I should have paid more attention to the second part. There was, after all, the little detail of actually taking the Promised Land. How was I supposed to know that clearing the Promised Land of all the enemies of my soul would take a life time? I think I figured I’d have it together by the time I turned twenty-five or thirty.
Our pastor has been speaking on Joshua. His messages have been just what I needed during my current battle campaign. The best part of the passage, the promise that means the most to me now, is the very last line. The Lord my God will be with me wherever I go. I keep returning to the idea of his presence. In His presence I won’t be afraid or discouraged. In His presence I can be strong and courageous, because it is His strength and His courage on which I depend. God kindly made sure that my own strength and courage ran out long ago.
Last weekend I learned of new difficulties on the horizon, more tests for my faith, new challenges to courage. All my new precious babies will probably be far away by next fall. My son will be deploying again within a year. There are lots of questions about work and what next year will bring. I’d rather not face these things. I’d rather focus on being “prosperous and successful” but, except for brief glimpses, I think those things are still over the hill or around the bend. Someday the battle will be over, the land will be clear, and then I’ll rest. It will be glorious.
We have been singing this song every week at church during this series on Joshua. I love it. I don’t remember ever hearing it before, but it has become a favorite. It is simple, but beautiful and true. I’m hanging on to it as a life raft.
If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can’t be done
We’ll fix our eyes on You and we will come
Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We’ll gaze into the flames and look for You