Thursday, June 23, 2016

I need a little shoring up

Be strong and brave, and don’t tremble in fear of them, because the Eternal your God is going with you. He’ll never fail you or abandon you!  (Deuteronomy 31:6 VOICE)

Moses was about to "pass the baton" to Joshua, and in preparing for his leaving of this earth, as well as the future leadership of the Israelite nation, Moses gives final instructions to carry on without fear.  Great armies, vast in number and strong in "fighting force" would stand in their way, but greater forces would rear their ugly heads most of them knew nothing about.  Forces like stubborn pride, unyielding discontent, and unbridled lust.  Forces which indeed, if unchecked quickly, would lead to their fall as a nation.  I think Moses had a foreshadowing of this, since one of the very last things he did while on this earth was the recording of the words given to him by God so they could be brought out long after he had gone as a reference and reminder of all God required and promised. Charles Stanley says, "When God speaks, oftentimes his voice will require an act of courage on our part."  The problem is we often start well in our "acts of courage", but somewhere along the line, we dwindle in our resolve, or tremble in fear of the unknown which lies ahead.

We often associate "strong" as a word describing the powerful ability of something or someone.  When we buy a new cleaning product, do we buy it because it advertises gentleness or fluffy scent?  Not usually!  We buy it because it promises to remove "even stubborn stains" or that it "breaks through dirt and grime".  We want power!  We want whatever is in that bottle or can to be a force dirt will have to reckon with.  I'd like us to begin to change our thinking about "strong" - because strong isn't just "able", it is "firm".  When Moses commands the people to be strong and brave, he isn't saying he wants them to have all the "power" to fight the enemies they face, but to be strong in their resistance of those powers who will oppose them (especially the ones they won't see coming).

It isn't what we see coming which usually is our undoing - it is the unnoticed attacks which do us in.  At first, we don't notice them because we are distracted by something else, or we just plain don't recognize the "skill" at which these forces "invade" our lives.  I like to play board games like backgammon, and card games like Euchre.  On my tablet, I can play these with "virtual opponents" or "partners".  In a couple of these, I can set the "skill level" I want to play at - like novice or expert.  This gives me a hint about the skill with which the other player will "maneuver" to win.  I know this up front - something I think I'd like to know up front in most of my life's dealings, but which oftentimes remains hidden until I make the "first move".

The "first move" in life is often the hardest - not because we are cowards, but because we "fear the unknown".  As Moses is speaking with Joshua and the people, he is reminding them of the importance of not just trusting what we can see with our eyes alone.  We need to develop a sense of confidence in the one who walks with us into the unknown, so that we stand strong (firm) and don't succumb to the fear lurking at the doorways of our hearts.  What gives us the greatest problems in life aren't the things we know will oppose us, but those things from within and without which we don't know will give us more than a few challenges. What Moses did that day might just serve as a reminder of the tactic we need to take when asked to do something which requires courage.  He set into permanent record the words of God - so they could stand as a reminder of all he had done, what he promised to continue to do, and what we should be doing.  

Maybe the best strategy when facing the unknown isn't to "muster up" whatever courage we can on the inside, but to admit we aren't as "firm" as we need to be and allow God to "shore us up" through his Word.  Just sayin!