Today, we kick off a brand new series titled Back to School. Summer is quickly fading, and the new school year is rapidly approaching.
Parents, and teachers, alike are preparing for the school year in this pandemic/post-pandemic world we find ourselves in.
As I think about all the world has experienced in the past 17 months, I realize that risk is associated with everything we do. Things we didn’t think were risky have suddenly become riskier.
Keeping people safe in a global pandemic is risky.
Today, as we head back to school, I want us to know that life is risky, but God is with us and wants us to live courageously.
What does it mean to be courageous?
According to Merriam-Webster, courageous means,
having or characterized by courage : BRAVE 1
Some synonyms for courage 2 are:
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see someone who is courageous or undaunted?
I will give you some time to think about it.
I love photography. Every picture tells a story. Some say a thousand words, and others leave you breathless. I was fortunate to be mentored by Anacleto Rapping. He was an L.A. Times photographer who covered world events, the Olympics and became a teacher.
During his illness, Michael was strong, courageous, and a good friend. He has since gone home to be with the Lord, but he taught me that a story exists in every photograph. He encouraged me to look at life and photography from all angles, including the moments behind us.
This is why I love looking beyond the action to the crowd that surrounds me. It’s the strength in a child’s eyes, or a pastor’s commitment to his congregation, or painting a playground as a bride prepares for her wedding day.
It’s about living life courageously.
One of my other favorite photographers is Jimmy Chin. When I think of death-defying climbs and photography – he’s the guy. He was the photographer behind Free Solo.
Being courageous can be a small step out of your comfort zone or hanging off the side of a mountain. When it comes to courage, there is no one size fits all.
In today’s scripture, we find Joshua assuming the mantel of leadership for Israel. Moses just died, and the Lord tells Joshua to go into the land He promised them.
The Lord tells Joshua,
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” — Joshua 1:6
Assuming leadership mantels is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes we think we know what to expect when we join the management ranks, but nothing can prepare us for leading, especially in a time of hardship or crisis.
Again, the Lord told Joshua,
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:7
The Lord reminds Joshua (and us) to follow the law He gave. Success will accompany you; however, the Lord did not say that it would be easy.
For us, leading will have its successes, but it will often have hardships and failures. I have personally walked tough roads while leading, but I could see God accompanying me as I look back on those experiences.
Again, the Lord says to Joshua,
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” — Joshua 1:8
As leaders, we are watched more carefully. The Lord tells Joshua to meditate on His Word day and night. We need that same advice. We need to let it live and breath in us; let it flow from our mouths and hearts.
I used to coach a high school girl’s cross country team. During one of the races, I had an athlete collapse due to an unknown illness. While we waited for the paramedics, she quoted scripture – it just rolled off of her tongue.
When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, it rolls off our tongues when we encounter various trials and crises.
Once again, the Lord says to Joshua, now a bit more forceful,
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9
And there it is, the battle cry personified, the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Be strong and courageous.
Let me ask you again, when you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see someone courageous or undaunted?
Keeping it real for a moment – I don’t always see myself as courageous or undaunted. When I go through tough times, I get discouraged, just like Joshua.
Joshua had some big shoes to fill with the passing of Moses. Moses led God’s people out of Egypt. With God’s power and strength, he split the Red Sea, and the people of Israel walked on dry land.
Moses communicated with God on Mt. Sinai – in fact, God talked to Moses through burning bush.
But…Moses struggled as well. He didn’t consider himself a good speaker and doubted he could convince Pharaoh to let the nation of Israel leave Egypt. That’s why his brother Aaron went with him.
Moses also struck a rock to get water when God asked him to speak to it because he was frustrated with the people of Israel.
We all have our uncourageous moments, but with God, we can be courageous. We can be undaunted.
God didn’t remind Joshua once and leave him to lead the people of Israel. Nope – God reminded Joshua multiple times to live courageously.
Like Joshua, God reminds us that we can live courageously as well, no matter the situation in front of us.
Sometimes, we need a reminder on how to live a courageous life!
As the global pandemic ebbs and flows, the Lord is with us. He has been with us throughout this crisis, and He continues to be with us. He wants to remind you to be strong and courageous!
Go out and live courageously!
Lord, thank you for this glorious day. Help me write your words on my heart so I can be a living, breathing testimony of who you are especially as we continue through this health crisis. Would you please help me to be strong and courageous today? Amen!
- https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/courageous ↩︎
- https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/courageous#synonyms ↩︎
- Courageous – Casting Crowns (song)
- It’s Going Down Undefeated – Devin Hoffman, Richard Vegas & Jessica Easley (song)
- Day One – Rupert Pope & Giles Palmer (song)
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