“This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (VOICE)
When my youngest son, Joshua, began kindergarten, the skip in his step disappeared. Day after day, he shuffled off the school bus with his backpack bulging heavy and his head hung low.
He had a wonderful teacher in a life-giving school, yet his heart was unsettled and sad.
I missed the fast-footed giggler who had raced across our yard all summer. And I wondered what it would take to beckon back my bounding boy.
When I shared my concerns with my son’s teacher, she listened with a knowing nod. She assured me Joshua was excelling in the classroom and adjusting to the daily routines. Then she paused and asked, “What does Joshua do at recess?”
I told her he often sat alone on the chain-link swings. Too tentative to join the noisy kickball games or climb the crowded monkey bars, he chose to watch the action unfold from his swaying seat in the corner of the playground.
“Of course,” I added with a doleful chuckle, “He tells me the swings aren’t much fun without someone to give him a push.”
The teacher responded with a sage smile, “I think Joshua will flourish when he finds a friend.”
My spirit leapt in concession, and suddenly, I knew what to pray for my kindergartener.
Weeks later, Joshua hopped off the school bus and crossed the yard with a familiar giddy gallop. The good news spilled from his lips as he munched on his afternoon snack.
A new friend had joined him on the swings. Not just any friend — a friend who knew how to make the swings soar. And before recess ended, that 4-foot answered prayer had taught my son how to do the same.
From that day on, Joshua and his friend embraced the noise and joys of recess together. They sailed on the swings and climbed courageously on the monkey bars. They spun themselves silly on the merry-go-round, and eventually, they even joined those rowdy kickball games.
Steadily, my son’s confidence and contentment returned. And the skip in his step did, too.
As the school year drew to a close, I asked my little boy what made his buddy so special.
“He makes my legs brave,” Joshua replied with a grateful grin.
Hot tears burned my eyes as my son’s declaration stirred my soul. I realized it wasn’t bold words or daring deeds that had fueled my son’s fearless feet. He’d found courage in the “with-ness” of a friend.
Maybe that’s why God reminds us over and over in Scripture that He is with us:
He goes before us, and He stands behind us. (Psalm 139:5)
He walks beside us, (Isaiah 41:10) and He dwells within us. (John 14:17)
And, according to Joshua 1:9, when we’re short on courage, it’s in His presence that we find our pluck!
“… be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
So next time we’re overwhelmed by the challenges that stretch before us, let’s remember the Faithful Friend who stands beside us.
Because we weren’t made to walk the dusty road of life alone. And as a wise kindergartner once taught me, we all need a friend who makes our legs brave!
Dear Jesus, thank You for calling me friend. Please increase my awareness of Your presence, and synchronize my steps with Yours. I want to walk in confidence and courage because You are with me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Psalm 31:24, “So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!” (NLT)
John 15:15, “I don’t call you servants any longer; servants don’t know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends.” (VOICE)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
What’s something you could do this week to invest in your friendship with Jesus? Consider taking a walk and talking to Him or meeting Him in the pages of His Word. Be honest with Him about your fears and ask Him to make you more aware of His presence. We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
Keep a list of the ways you notice Jesus beside you in the days ahead. Draw courage from the tangible reminders that He is with you.
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