“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9
Not so long ago and for a very long time, I was blessed – often, supernaturally so! – to awaken each morning with a song of praise in my heart. Even before I fully awakened and opened my eyes, a song…God’s message and blessing…was there to greet me. To be honest, neither my life nor pastoral ministry had unfolded as I’d expected; my expectations were fueled, I know, by memories of the thriving and nurturing church family I’d grown up amongst. I’d looked forward to being part of such a blessing as a pastor. And the inspiring songs which woke me, each day, seemed to affirm that hopeful expectation. And so, as I clung tenaciously to my expectations, to my desires, many years passed before I finally accepted the fact that God had different plans for me.
Trial by trial, struggle by painful struggle, God continues to graciously and patiently teach me that my ability to live a truly victorious life rests not in acquiring what I desire, but rather in accepting – with gratitude – what my Savior desires for and from me. Whenever I attempt to ignore or forget that grounding truth, my faith grows weaker and weaker, as I turn to my own understanding and devices. Still, over the course of my many years of journeying with my Jesus, my gracious and patient Savior reminds me of my absolute need to, again, trust Him completely and, again, be humbly obedient to Her will.
Not so long ago – and to my shame –I realized that I was no longer being awakened by my Savior’s presence with me, early every morning; I realized that I was no longer hearing the songs which brought me inspiration and joy for the coming day. But instead of Christ’s condemnation, I heard these gentle words: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”
Living victoriously never depends upon following in our own way or receiving what we prefer. Living victoriously — especially in the midst of our most fearsome circumstances — always depends upon trusting the Way and will of the One we name “Savior”. To seek and receive Christ’s Holy Spirit in this way ensures the uncommon courage and strength only God can give. Oh, wait…I’m again hearing my Lord’s gift of music in the morning! Thanks be to my Savior!