Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.
~Joshua 1:6 (NLT)
Several years ago, late in the wee hours of the morning, I was sitting in my bed reading a book entitled If Life Is A Game, These Are the Rules written by, Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott. As I sat there, listening to the silence that hovered over the two-bedroom apartment in Illinois that Michelle and I shared; I read these words:
Courage is finding the inner strength and bravery required when confronting danger, difficulty, and opposition. Courage is the energy current behind all great actions and the spark that ignites the initial baby step of growth. It resides deep within each of us, ready to be accessed in those moments when you need to forge ahead or break through seemingly insurmountable barriers. It is the intangible force that propels you forward on your journey (104).
Courage! Most of you have lived long enough by now to know that courage is the one thing that you need to survive in this life. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, peaks and valleys, highs and lows; and, life in the 21st century seems to be full of mass shootings, protests, national confrontations, global pandemics, swiftly produced vaccines, social isolation, and uncertainty about the future. And the things mentioned in the preceding sentence are just the things seen on the surface. Beneath the surface there is so much more—family disputes, angry, bitterness, depression, spiritual doubt, loss or change of employment (because of the pandemic), mistrust among our elected officials, and so much more.
Let us pause and be honest for a moment; Besides God, there is only one other thing to help us deal with the things that we are facing as a nation and as a church. That one thing is courage. It takes courage to continue to get up every morning, not being able to see the end from the beginning or middle—concerning this pandemic. It takes courage, to take your mask off when you see a friend out in public who hasn’t seen your face in the past thirteen months. It takes courage to walk into the grocery store (even with a mask on), when you don’t even know if the person standing next to you has COVID or if they have been vaccinated. It takes courage to believe in a good God when there seems to be no good in sight. It takes courage to stand true to your convictions when you are surrounded by people who don’t agree with you. It takes courage to confront and attempt to conquer your own inner demons that you have been battled with for years.
Nevertheless, in the midst of it all, God calls us and urges us to be courageous. What barrier are you facing in your life right now that calls for you to put on the shield of courage and face it head on? Whatever it is; be strong and courageous knowing that your courage is that intrinsic energy current propelling your forward. Sometimes, you can even hear that still small voice of courage telling you to “Keep going!”, or “Try again!”, or “Don’t give up!” When you hear that still small voice, just listen to it and at least attempt to be courageous. After all, what do you have to lose? And you may just be surprised by the end result.
Pastor Michael L. Sloan