Over the past few days, the Daily Office reading for the Old Testament have depicted the escalating tension as the Israelites are on the cusp of entering the Holy Land. Two days ago in the readings, Joshua was given authority, Moses died yesterday, and today Joshua was told to “be strong and courageous.”
What an understatement! Joshua is taking command a large rabble of nomads who have been trekking across the wilderness and living on the knife’s edge between starvation and abundance. They have proven themselves to be rebellious, quirky, slow to understand, and quick to judge. Now, this young man is supposed to lead this people across a river and into a new land. He will be required to call upon all of his military acumen, political skill, and Godly hope to accomplish the task set before him. Telling Joshua to be strong and courageous at this point is like telling Nolan Ryan to throw strikes. Duh.
Unless we look at it the other way around. Perhaps we should see these two commands, to be strong and courageous, as the foundation, rather than another set of attributes among a long litany. When you are crossing the Jordan River of your life and entering the unknown land of promise, you know what you have to do. “I have to love my wife.” “I have to graduate from school.” “I have to work to please my client.” But perhaps these should be second on the list to “I have to be strong. I have to be courageous.” If we can nail down these two elusive characteristics, loving, studying, and working isn’t so daunting anymore.
The rest will come, only be very strong and very courageous.