6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Of course the repeated phrase — one also found in a passage in Deuteronomy relating the conversation Moses had with Joshua as he passed the leadership baton to him — is “be strong and courageous.” That conjures up quit the mental image, doesn’t it. It’s too easy to respond to this kind of declaration by scrambling around in frantic search of a superhero costume and I don’t seek God looking for superheros. At least not ones who wear tights and capes.
The more powerful (to me, at least) message of this text might be summarized in a single word: abide. That’s a word from John 15 and the whole vine metaphor deal, but the image is clear here too. God tells Joshua that the reason he can be strong and courageous is because He (God) is with him and engaged.
He also instructs Joshua in how to lean into God’s presence — something that looks very different from rushing about searching for the costume. This leaning into God is about obedience, study of God’s Word, meditation on God’s Word, and constantly remembering that God — the God revealed in the Word — is WITH YOU!
I’m much better at designing superhero costumes and playing dress up than I am at leaning into God in obedience and devotion. I hate to have to confess that, but it would be ludicrous to do otherwise. The only thing that keeps me truly mindful of God’s presence with me — the only hope I have myself of being strong and courageous as I live the life I’ve been called to — is to daily dunk myself in the Word. I must take it into myself as well as let it wash over me. Too long without taking the Word into myself and I become spiritually dehydrated. Too long without immersing myself in the Word and I start to spiritually stink.