“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I was talking with a business man recently who was going through a time of tremendous fear and despair. He was so gripped that he questioned whether he could do his job anymore. In the midst of our conversation he said, “I’m right at the Jordan River.” What he didn’t know was that I was working on a message from Joshua 1, where the Jordan River is between Israel and the promised land. To be “at the Jordan River” is to be at a place where a decision has to be made: Do I go forward in faith, or do I retreat in fear?
In nine short verses God tells Joshua to be “strong and courageous” three times. Why is this? I believe it’s because we have a role in whether we go into the promised land or not. God will defeat the giants and take down the walls that oppose us; but He won’t do it apart from us agreeing with His purpose and power working in us. (Ephesians 3:20)
The previous group that was at the Jordan River didn’t make it into the promised land because of fear. Twelve spies had gone out and brought back two narratives of what was happening:
One narrative, given by ten of the spies, went something like this: “We are in big trouble. There are giants in this land that make us look like grasshoppers. There are impenetrable walls that we could never take down. If we go forward we will fail – God has deceived us. It’s time to retreat to Egypt.”
The other narrative, given by Joshua and Caleb, went something like this: “There are giants and walls, but it’s an amazing land, and God has given it to us. The giants and walls are nothing compared to God and He is going with us. He is so good to give us this spacious land that flows with milk and honey. Let’s cross the Jordan and take our land!”
Whichever narrative we agree with will be reality we live in. God doesn’t make anyone go into His promised land for their life. He encourages, He plans, He invites, but He doesn’t force us. If we choose to listen to the voice of fear instead of the voice of faith, we will wander in the wilderness and never become all that He wanted us to be.