“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
You can do it! I willed him to try one more time.
A graceful herd of deer near my house had just leaped a fence into a spacious pasture … all except one. Since his family had already made the trip, I knew the fence was low enough for this deer to jump. But he seemed to be having trouble believing that.
Over and over and over, he backed up and made a heroic run toward the fence. But each time, instead of bounding over, he awkwardly stumbled to a halt, not allowing himself to trust the momentum he’d gained.
It was heartbreaking to watch — and not just because of my compassion for the deer. It tragically reminded me of my own behavior at times.
The obstacle that blocked that deer is the same one that frequently stops me as well: fear. Now, I don’t often find myself facing a fence I need to hurdle, but I do struggle to navigate through uncertainty to the promises God has for me. I see the path ahead of me, but I just don’t think I can do it. The obstacles seem too big. My abilities seem pitifully small. Again and again, I fumble at the fence. I come right up to the edge of my comfort zone but can’t bring myself to make the leap.
The biblical leader Joshua must have understood this feeling. When the book of Joshua opens, he’d just assumed authority for several million former slaves — the Israelites — headed for an enemy-filled land. The people were uneasy, and the challenges looked immense. Moses, the trusted former leader, was dead. Surely Joshua must have been afraid to leap into the unknown.
But God’s plan wasn’t for Joshua to ignore his fear or pretend it didn’t exist; instead, it was for Joshua to press past the fear and lay hold of faith. “Be strong and courageous,” God urged — a command repeated three times in the first nine verses of this book! And the passage details a road map of options for choosing courage: meditating on the Word of God, (Joshua 1:8) taking action steps into the future (Joshua 1:2) and remembering the faithfulness of God in the past. (Joshua 1:5)
But the best ammunition against fear’s assaults is found in the second half of today’s key verse: “Do not be frightened … for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9c, emphasis mine).
Friend, I don’t know what fence you’re facing today. But I do know that the truth of God’s presence is the antidote to our every struggle.
In this world, fear will often speak into our souls. But it doesn’t have to be the loudest voice. May we find the strength to take the leap of faith — over the fences of fear and into the frontiers of faith.
Dear Lord, You see my heart, and You know what “fence” I’m facing in my own life right now. Please help me to be strong and courageous in the promise of Your presence. Grant me the holy boldness of Your Spirit to trust in Your unfailing love and to take the next step in faith that moves me forward. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Today’s devotion writer, Ashlyn McKayla Ohm, is a member of COMPEL Writers Training. You can find writing tips, inspiration and community when you follow COMPEL on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 41:10, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (ESV)
Lamentations 3:57, “You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’” (ESV)
What’s one step you can take today to move forward in the pursuit of God’s will, no matter how frightening your “fence” may look? Write down your favorite scripture and display it for a constant reminder of the Lord’s presence with you — and share it with us in the comments!
© 2022 by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm. All rights reserved.
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