As one given to cautiousness, my Bible readings over the past two days have reminded me how particularly applicable these passages are to me personally. I am reading the first few chapters of Joshua. Over a span of 4 verses (1:6-9), God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous” three times and even at the end of the chapter the people themselves tell Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” The setting is that Moses has just died and Joshua has been given the responsibility (and the privilege!) to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land. On what basis did God tell Joshua to “be strong and courageous?” In the second part of Joshua 1:5, God says to Joshua, “Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” The reason we can “be strong and courageous” is because God is faithful; he will not fail us or forsake us. We have not been given the enormous task of taking approximately 2 million children of Israel across the Jordan River, conquering the inhabitants and settling the land; but we do have the challenges in our own lives for which we need strength and courage.
The children of Israel were in the midst of two major transitions: Joshua rather than Moses as their leader and settling into the Promised Land as opposed to wandering in the desert. Pinelands also is in the midst of a major transition: a change of pastors. Being strong and courageous does not mean being unwise or impatient, but it does mean being ready and willing to follow God as He does great and marvelous things in our midst. I applaud our elders (Louis, Rich, Kenny and Mark) for not missing a beat even though we do not have a pastor at this time. May each of us understand what God would have us do at this time of transition and then do it!