Our verse for today comes from Joshua 1:7, ” Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. “
Consider some of the highs and lows that Joshua had witnessed over the past forty years of his life. God had brought His servant Moses to the captive Hebrews and led them to freedom without so much as a sword being lifted or a battle being fought. But before the celebrating could die down, the Egyptian soldiers were on their heels and the way of escape was completely cut off by the sea. But Moses again stood before the people and delivered them to safety, wiping out their pursuers, again without the need of a warrior or a battle plan. As the nation made its way to the promised land, he saw the glory of Mount Sinai followed up with the idolatry of the golden calf. As the people complained of hunger and poor leadership, he witnessed Moses going to God on their behalf and seeking relief. He beheld water flowing from a rock as Moses spoke to it, and he saw the same result when Moses lost his cool and struck the rock. And just as memorable, he saw his mentor and beloved leader stand on a hill, forbidden to enter the land to which he had led them.
So what did all of these events do to Joshua? Did they prepare him for what lie ahead? Can you watch the struggles of a follower of God, enjoying their victories and cringing in their failures, and say that you have learned what it takes to carry on God’s task? Perhaps. Oh, it makes sense to us that God urged Joshua to be strong and courageous. How else could he hope to conquer a land and lead a nation? But I think the real wisdom from God rested in the instruction to not turn to the right hand or to the left. For in those words I hear God saying, ” Die to yourself. ” I hear the warning that my will can take me this way or that, but surrendering everything leads down His path of success. The strength and the courage is needed to surrender, not to lead. Joshua needed the courage to do what the Lord wanted of him. It just happened to be leading His people into the promised land. He wants you to be courageous enough, too, to surrender your right hand and your left. That is the way of a servant.
As we seek Him today, ask God to search the corners of your heart to see which hand you are wanting to follow. Be strong and very courageous and surrender everything to Him.