04 February, 2018

Be strong and courageous

A new day is dawning, a new chapter, the chapter where
our boys gradually fly away into adulthood.
I wrote here last month that I was going to reflect on the passage from Joshua 1:9 this year, and especially on this blog at the start of each month. I've been trying to write this post for a few days now, but it hasn't been easy, I have a lot going on (personally as well as work-wise) just now and isn't easy to think straight. But here goes:

Thursday I wrote:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go"(Joshua 1:9, NIV UK).
God is recorded as saying approximately the same thing as the above—be strong and courageous—to Joshua seven times and a eighth if you count it when Moses said it to him in front of all of Israel (Deut. 31:7). Joshua in turn said it to the commanders of his army (Joshua 10:25). David said the same phrases to Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:20), especially in the context of entrusting the building of the temple to him. 

Just the other day I read about King Hezekiah, who said it too, when the odds were against being able to survive a seige by Assyria's Sennacherib. He encouraged the military officers in the square at Jerusalem's city gate saying, "Be strong and courageous. Do no be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles" (2 Chronicles 32:7–8 NIV UK).

"Do not be afraid" is even more common and is said by God to Abram in Genesis right through to John in Revelation.

"God will be with you" was said by Israel (Jacob) to Joseph when he was dying and by Moses to the Israelites when God was displaying his power at Mt Sinai.

One of the more famous statements in this line is from Isaiah 41:10:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (NIV UK).
It turns out that today (Thursday) is a good day to pause and ponder this. It started out as probably the last day at my desk before other things overtake me and I fly to Australia on Monday (Ed: circumstances were conspiring to possibly change my plans). I'd hoped to get a lot done, but I'm stuck in the mire of email address difficulties and therefore unable to get my head around the myriad of things on my work to do list.

I haven't done a good job of concentrating on this . . . I've written this over several hours while dealing with email issues, writing a prayer letter, updates from my husband at the Far East wrestling tournament, talking with a boy about his packing, etc. And now I have boys coming home from school sharing my space (the downside of an office at home in the living area) . . . and nothing more will end up being written today (on this anyway).

The next day: 

So often I'm afraid of the unknown, or the stuff I can't control. Or I get dismayed because I feel weak. As I write this at the start of Friday, I know that I'm facing a long day, and I've only had about five hours sleep, a lot less than I really need. But it turned out to be a good day, in a happy place at a wrestling meet with friends.

Today (Sunday):

We leave tomorrow, me and my son. I found my eyes have been a bit leaky. It's not that I don't want him to move onto this next exciting stage, but I find change hard. I've said a lot of goodbyes in the last 20 years and this is yet another one, and a biggie. Also this mum's heart has stored up in it all the challenges of the last 18 years, and can hardly believe the young man he's becoming. It has a measure of exciting, sad, and scary all mixed in. It is also the start of a season of goodbyes for us, as we say goodbye to all our boys in the next six years or so.

In the midst of it all, I'm trying to do what we were encouraged to in church this morning: trust God. And this is the God we trust:
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV UK).
So tomorrow, as I go to the monthly Kanto OMF prayer and fellowship meeting in the morning and then on to the airport for an overnight flight, I will try to keep my mind on: "Be strong and courageous, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (NIV UK).

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