Passing the Baton of Strength and Courage

Leah DiPascal

Day: 32 | Plan: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31:7-8 (NIV) Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’”

Have you ever received a position you didn’t feel qualified for? I have. Taking on a bigger role with more assignments and greater responsibility can seem daunting. Especially when you’re just getting started and have “big shoes to fill.”

In today’s reading we discover that Joshua was about to assume Moses’ monumental assignment of leading a massive group of misfits into the land of Canaan.

Although Joshua had been observing Moses’ role for decades, it was now time for Moses to pass the baton of leadership, requiring a lot more from Joshua. More decision-making. More perseverance. More patience.

Just think about it for a moment. Moses had been Joshua’s mentor for almost 40 years. That’s a long time. I wonder if Joshua had become dependent upon Moses during that extended period of mentorship?

Imagine all the conversations they would have had in the wilderness, talking over military strategies, the lay of the land and the importance of keeping God’s instructional law.

I can just picture Joshua asking a slew of questions on how to lead people well, while leaning in intently to learn as Moses patiently addressed each one of his concerns.

But those intimate conversations would soon come to an end and they both knew it. This bittersweet exchange would take place before the whole community in today’s reading as Moses announced:

I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan. The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you … Joshua also will crossover ahead of you, as the LORD said.” (Deuteronomy 31:2-3)

I wonder if the sharp sting of initial mourning pricked Joshua’s heart as the responsible weight of Israel’s community was now being placed upon his shoulders? How could he go on without Moses? How would he endure the loss of his mentor and friend?

And just as reality was sinking in, a personal declaration of hope was spoken from mentor to mentee as Moses turned to Joshua and said, Be strong and courageous … the LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

In the weeks ahead, those reassuring words would ring over and over in Joshua’s mind, as Moses passed into glory and Joshua passed through the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

On mornings when Joshua woke up feeling uncertain and ill equipped, what truth could he hold onto that would reassure him and echo those spoken words by his wonderful mentor, “Be strong and courageous”?

During long sleepless nights when Joshua lay wide awake, tossing and turning over uncertainty, what promise could he recite to calm his nerves and build his faith for the challenge, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”?

It would be the solidifying words placed right in the middle of Moses’ reassuring statement in today’s key verse:

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Those words would become a personal reminder to keep Joshua steady day after day. Pressing forward in strength and courage, knowing he wasn’t alone, but that God was with him every step of the way. It was the antidote for his fears and a daily dose of hope to counteract his doubts and discouragement.

Let’s read it again …

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Friend, these priceless words of truth are for us, too, as we face uncertainty, feel ill equipped in our callings and attempt to carry the heavy weight of our assignments alone.

Our strength and courage comes from knowing that no matter what problems we face today or how daunting the future may seem at times, the Lord goes before us and will be with us. Always. Forever. Amen.

As we hold onto this truth, even when life sometimes has us hanging by a thread, we can stare down the barrel of fear and discouragement and declare, “My God will never leave me nor forsake me.” Never. Ever. Amen!

Prayer: God thank You, thank You, for being with me. Not just yesterday or today or tomorrow, but always. I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be discouraged. You are right here by my side. You go before me and lead me safely onto my next assignment. You will never, ever forsake me. My hope is found in You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

As you read further into today’s text of Deuteronomy 31, you’ll come to verses... Read More

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