One of the themes that God is screaming at me is Be Strong and Courageous.
Be Strong and Courageous.
At Bible Study Fellowship this year, we are studying the Life of Moses, which is also the story of the Israelite's journey from Egypt/Slavery to the Promised Land/Freedom. IF:Gathering was centered on Joshua and the Israelites taking the Promised Land. Last weekend's retreat centered on that same journey.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
God is screaming at me. Not whispering. Screaming.
It's a command. Not a suggestion. But, before I depict God as a hard-driving taskmaster, let me say that the beauty is that He does the work in me to make me strong. Just when I think I'm going to cave in fear, anxiety and worry, God steps in and works strength and courage into my heart. This is not a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of command. This is a begging and pleading with God to give me what I need kind of command.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fear. (Psalm 34:4)
That verse doesn't say he delivered me from all of the things, situations, people and places I fear. It says that He will deliver me from my fear. Let's get technical. Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.,whether the threat is real or imagined. It is the feeling or condition of being afraid. Another definition says that fear is anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur. That emotion, feeling, condition or anticipation is what God delivers us from.
Jesus says do not be terrified . . . for I will be with you wherever you go. For the past couple of months I have had an intense internal struggle with being terrified, scared that life won't work out the way I want it to. However, God is getting to the root of my heart. He's showing me that I fear because I don't actively remember what difference it makes that He is with me. It's in these times that I have believed a lie that God is just passively there, inactive, just watching as I hurt. Yes, I am thinking that He loves me and has sympathy for me. But, not thinking of Him as doing anything about it.
But, God cannot be separated from His character and I have to cooperate with the Spirit and purposely appropriate the Truth that I know about Him from His Word. As my friend Sarah said yesterday: "Yes, we need to build that temple to honor Him and what He's done, but we too have to quit circling that same mountain and turn North (Deuteronomy 2: 2-3)." For me, turning North is going to require taking my anxious thoughts captive and choosing to think on who God REALLY is.
If He is with me then He is totally in control. Totally sovereign. He's not just with me. He is actively and intimately involved in, and in control, of the details of my life. Whatever I am suffering might not look like I think it should or what I hoped for, but I have a fixed blessing from God who said "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5; Deut. 31:6).
Hebrews 13:6 goes on to say "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." God is not passive. He is not only with us, He helps us. God wasn't just with the Israelites, He made it clear that it was Him who won the battles. As Moses told the Israelites, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." (Exodus 14:14).
When we start believing the lie that God is just there, an inactive bystander, let's combat that lie with the Truth. Jesus is not made by the hands of men, He is not like the idols that we create . . . idols who cannot see, hear, small, feel, walk, or talk. (See Psalm 115). Instead, He fights, He saves, He delivers, He provides, He leads, He protects, He speaks, He cares, He heals, He creates. Intricately involved in our lives, Jesus changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. (Daniel 2:21). The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a river wherever He pleases. (Proverbs 21:1).
Remembering God's true character is what causes the knowledge of His presence to give me true joy and peace. It's what allows me to take courage. It allows me to stop being afraid. I'm learning to purposely seek Him, asking Him to help me remember who He REALLY is and what He REALLY does, and in that constant remembering He is delivering me from my fear.