When Joshua took the reigns of the people from Moses, the Lord prepared him with specific instructions and the admonition “be strong and courageous.” A few verses later the He tells Joshua to “be strong and very courageous.” Then the Lord finishes off these first nine verses of Joshua chapter one with a third “be strong and courageous.”
When my wife says something to me once, I sometimes don’t “hear” it. That rarely happens when she repeats it three times. It seems we might want to give the Creator of everything a little more attention (this is not to suggest my wife does not have god-like qualities…is that clear Dear?). So, what’s up with being strong and courageous?
We call a person courageous when he follows his will even though the rest of his person tells him to turn and run screaming like a little girl. A courageous person exercises control over how he will or will not act. Real courage and real strength display themselves in self-control.
If I control something, it means that I choose what it will do. If I choose what that thing controlled will do, then things exist that it could do, but I have chosen it will not do. Rational people make such decisions – what to do or not do – based on the fabric of their values. Values precede actions and courageous action requires courageous values.
In my past criminal defense practice, I once represented a young man with paranoid schizophrenia. Not only did Alex live in an unreal world, all his imaginary friends were out to get him. I recall clearly visiting him for the first time in lock-up – he babbled on about how his case was based on the “water law” and that he should be free. Actually, Alex had stolen a car and led the police on a high speed chase up and down Highway 5 – no water there. After that first meeting Alex and I attended a hearing in which Alex repeatedly interrupted the judge with comments that culminated the announcement that he was going to marry the young and pretty public defender who had represented Alex before me. The judge ended the hearing with a wry smile and a quick “good luck Mr. Trask.” Alex had no basis whatsoever for his decisions. Alex was not a rational person and his values were imaginary.
Where should we rational folk get our values, our standards for self-control - the drivers of courage? For the serious believer, that question borders on the rhetorical. God’s Word provides the ultimate standard for man’s values, thoughts, and actions. After “be strong and courageous,” God spoke his final preparatory command to Joshua, “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.”
In order to have the Word available at the point of courage begging decisions, I must give it the necessary time to soak in and “richly dwell” my heart. I must meditate on, savor, ponder, and wonder over the Word if I plan to act courageously. Do you have the right stuff to initiate courageous action? If not, what will you commit to becoming strong and courageous?