Have you ever felt called to do something great for God but been too afraid to actually do it? I'm talking about going on that mission trip, starting a new ministry, moving location or accepting a leadership position. Those big, frightening, life changing things God calls us to do that we may not feel ready for.
Come with me to Joshua 1:1-9. Let me set the scene:
Moses has just died. The Israelites have been in mourning for 30 days and now it's time for them to move onto the next chapter and phase, entering the promised land.
For the past forty plus years the Israelites had been led by this great man. A patriarch, a leader, a father figure and a guide. He was well respected and he was important. But he was gone. They knew it was coming but no preparation compares to the reality of loss.
As much as they may have wanted to wallow in sorrow, God was about to fulfil His promise to the Israelites. Since the time of Abraham this group of people had been promised a land of their own. Now, here they were, facing the promise head on, no turning back.
How do you feel about that thing God is calling you to? The thing you've been promised? The door that's wide open? What once seemed so far away, somewhat impossible, is now right before you within touching distance?
Overwhelmed? Mixed emotions of joy, fear, happiness, excitement, terror and inadequacy? I'm sure Joshua felt them all. He was standing in the shadow of one of the greatest leaders this world had ever seen and he was also face to face with a generational promise that was finally a reality. Frightening.
Joshua was chosen by God to carry the baton next. He shadowed Moses for a period of time where he saw God speak with Moses and witnessed a number of miraculous things. He was trained and ready for service. But no matter how trained or equipped he may have been, the realities of ministry always seem to be heavier and weightier than the theory. Can you relate?
God Vs Fear
Before the Israelites were led into the promised land, God spoke to Joshua. There was no mediator, no handwritten note, just God and Joshua. As I read over the things God actually says to this man I recognised how the same message can apply to us when faced with challenges that seem bigger than ourselves.
God has already prepared the way
The first thing God tells Joshua is where He is taking him and what it looks like. God outlines the places that will soon be Israelite ground. The rivers, the enemy territory, he even states that every place the soles of their feet touch will belong to them! God addresses the promise head on. I imagine Him saying 'this is going to be yours, trust me on that!' In the same way, God sometimes shows us where He wants to take us. It may be the road for tomorrow or a road we need to pave for future generations. The point I'm making is that regardless of what God is asking of you, He has already been there and prepared the way for you to go after Him. If God is already there, what is there to fear?
Your obstacles don't scare God
Secondly, God addresses the obstacles. Verse 5 speaks of enemies and God promises that in all the days of the life of Joshua, no man will be able to stand before them. Up until this point there were enemies on every side. They journeyed from Egypt, enemy land where they were oppressed, rulers warred against them, kings tried to curse them but through it all they were still standing. In the same way that God was with Moses amidst all those attacks, God promised to be with Joshua. God is not afraid of your enemies. God is not afraid of your hurdles. God is not afraid of what looks to you like a road block. If God is leading you, no enemy, obstacle, hurdle or power can stand against you. Don't allow the devil to trick you into thinking otherwise.
Fear is not welcome
Thirdly, God addresses Joshua’s fears. The Bible does not explicitly explain how Joshua was feeling, or what was going through his mind at this point in his ministry, but the words of comfort that God gave to him suggest he was feeling some sort of fear. There are numerous instances in these eight verses where God speaks directly to Joshua’s fears, three of which include the phrase 'be strong and of good courage.'
Paraphrased they go a little something like this; Be strong and of good courage because i'm going to use you to lead the people into the promised land. Be strong and of good courage I need you to set the example, stick to the rules that Moses set and not waver. Be strong and of good courage, don't let your heart fear or become discouraged, I am with you wherever you go.
How isolating it can be when someone close to you dies, when your best friend moves far away or when your support system becomes inaccessible. Joshua started off as an assistant and now he was the leader of Israel. Just like us Joshua needed to hear that he wasn’t alone. He saw Moses thrown in at the deep end, he saw how the people were ungrateful and oftentimes ungodly. He saw how long it took for them to get to this point and how there were complaints every step of the way. Who wouldn’t be afraid of what was next? Especially when you’re the one who’s in charge of making it happen!
One thing I am realising when it comes to God’s people and leadership; it's not about the leader, it's about God. Moses may have died and things may have shifted to Joshua but God was still the same. God had not changed and God was not going to change. Protected by God, shown mercy by God, provided for by God. It was all God and always will be God.
God is not afraid of your fear. He knows our fickle human hearts need connection and reassurance, so He sprinkled it like seasoning all throughout the Bible so we would never need to worry. Take that leadership role, go on that mission trip, start that ministry. Step out in faith. Let your desire for God and your obedience overtake your fears. You are not alone, God is with you.
Read through Joshua 1:1-9 and take some time to write down your fears as statements (I will be strong and courageous because..., I will not be afraid because..., I will trust in God to...). Take them to God in prayer and ask him to give you the courage He gave to Joshua.
Do you struggle with fear and anxiety? Take a look at our Bible verse cards. Encouraging scriptures and messages in a tin small enough to fit in your bag.