Read Joshua 1:1-9
So there Joshua is, standing at the river. About to cross over into a land that neither he nor the people he was leading had ever seen before. Unknown territory, but the territory that God was giving them. God was clear as a bell about that – ‘You’re going over into that land and that’s what I’m giving you.’
What questions must have arisen in the Israelites’ minds… in Joshua’s mind… What will the land be like? Will everyone be able to manage it? What if we fail and we’ve already crossed a river we can’t come back over?
Joshua finds himself standing there where he thought Moses would be standing. Taking on responsibility and leadership that he knew would come one day, but he didn’t think would be today. It was so sudden… was he ready? Would Will this work?
Along with His clear as a bell declaration that they would take the unknown land came God’s equally clear call to courage. ‘Do not be afraid… have I not commanded you? Moses is dead, he’s gone. The old is gone. The new and unknown is ahead, but it is for you as a people to go together into it. Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged.’
God calls now for courage, not caution. ‘If in doubt, let’s hold back’ must be replaced with ’Now in faith, let’s go forward.’ Heading into the new territory demands of us courage and willingness to go for it.
And the fear of failure or making wrong steps is mitigated by vv.7-8, where God tells Joshua and co., ‘Keep my Word, my Law, on your hearts, your lips, your mind.’ We won’t go wrong in any meaningful way if we are reading, talking and thinking through what God’s telling us in our Bibles. We might trip and stumble and make mistakes, but we won’t go wildly off course or break things irreparably if the Word of God won’t depart our minds and lips.
Do you believe that? Are you ready, are you going to be courageous? There’s a river before us and a new land ahead of us, one we’ve not yet known. If God commanded Joshua and Israel to be courageous, confident and covered in God’s Word; what is He telling us at this time of heading into unknown territory of being church in this world at this time?
Lord God, you’re the King. We go at your command, we stop at your command. We go wherever you lead, whether we’ve known it before or not. We go with your Word open and filling our minds, hearts and conversations. We go, rejecting fear and full of faith. We go knowing above all else that you are with us, that you will never leave or forsake us. May all these things we say to you be true of us, by your Spirit’s enabling, in Jesus’ name, Amen.