May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young.” –Bob Dylan quotes (American folksinger, b.1941)
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been afraid of heights. I’m not sure what triggered that fear in me, but to this day, high places terrify me. To be honest, I’ve never thought of myself as a very courageous person. I think the most courageous thing I’ve ever done in my life was giving birth to my two boys and I will just say, I had very little control over that.
Last summer, I participated in a “ropes course Adventure” in Atlanta, GA with a group of students from Abante International. There were several team building exercises we performed and to be honest, nothing prepared me for the Zip-line nor climbing a utility pole only to jump off at the top suspended by a rope held by my friends. That was insane!
My friends were amazing, though. They cheered me on as if my success depended on them. Once I crawled to the top and wiped away tears of fear, shame and embarrassment, I said a little prayer and then I gathered what little courage I had and jumped!
Joshua was confronted with tall walls surrounding a promised land that he was supposed to lead the children of Israel to conquer. By all accounts, this was an impossible task. God gave Joshua specific instructions as to how he would accomplish the task, but above all He told him to be strong and courageous. When I read that account, I often wonder why God constantly told him to be strong and courageous. Even the elders told Joshua to be strong and courageous. But why?
I believe the answer is found on Joshua 2:8-11:
8 Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9 “I know the LORD has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
One thing is evident to me, Fear cripples; courage enables. The way I see it, God had given the Israelites the land long before they began to march around the walls. Rahab said it best; “No one has the courage to fight…” All that stood between them and the realization of God’s promise was a wall. Joshua simply needed to be strong and courageous to lead his people to victory. You and I can do the same as we face our own walls.
Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary describes Courage as : mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. In these troubling times, what God wants from us is that we be strong and courageous; beyond the walls is the fulfillment of the promise.