On Monday we decorated my mommy van with some random pumpkins and headed out to South Lawn to share some chocolate joy. This is so my favorite thing to do this time of year. I love giving away candy to students, especially candy with a message so many need to hear. Each piece of chocolate is given away with this scripture stuck on top: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). This admonition to be strong and courageous is given three times in this chapter. Kind of seems like it is important.
The context of the story is that Moses has died. And God has chosen Joshua to be the one who will lead the Israelites into the promised land. This honor did not go to Moses, the one who spoke to God face to face as a friend. It went to the young guy. The apprentice. The one with no job experience. He is probably scared witless. And so the command from God Himself comes, “Be strong and courageous!” Notice it is not a request. Notice it is not a feel-good, warm fuzzy pick me. It is an admonition that shakes the earth: “Hey! You there looking around as if I’m talking to somebody else! You, be strong and courageous!” I love it!
Once again God chooses the least likely candidate to reveal His glory. I believe that young people today are the Joshua generation. I have never seen a population so intent on living the difference they most want to see made. It excites me; it humbles me. One of our students donated from their own funds to help us give away fair trade chocolate on Monday because this person very much believes in not just speaking about justice, but being a part of God’s justice. I am so proud, so thankful I get to be pastor to this individual.
I believe that the bigness of the command comes for two reasons. First, I believe it is so easy for young people to doubt their own worth, or their place in God’s plans. Let’s face it; our culture has told people to do what they want without regard for others. Often times it is the children who suffer. And as these children become young adults, they grow up with a belief that they are expendable, that their lives don’t really matter. The other reason is that never before has there been as much pressure to perform as now. Often students feel like the rest of their lives hinges on how well they perform now. They believe they don’t have time for the luxury of being still and quiet, learning to sense God’s presence with them in the noise, living as if the most important thing they can do with their time is pray and draw close to Jesus. In short, this generation has a target on its forehead.
I say that because our enemy knows what is at stake. And so does God. It is a generation that will give themselves with abandon to what they believe in. And so the spiritual battle is on to win the heart of a generation that loves, serves, and lives with everything they got. Let me just say this. God knows you have it in you to overcome every obstacle you will ever encounter. He know that with the Holy Spirit within you, you will be more than a conqueror. It thrills me to think of the promises that are just waiting to be realized because you, my Joshua generation, have decided to be strong and courageous. When you decide that going with God’s presence is the best way to change the world, the whole earth quakes. My dear ones, lets be partners with God in shaking things up a bit, shall we? So be strong and courageous; know that GOD IS WITH YOU. And wherever you go with God, the earth trembles.
This is me trusting,