Wherever you set foot, you will be on land that I have given you...Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.--Joshua 1:3, 9
Then David continued, " Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly."--1 Chronicles 28:20
But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in Christ.--Hebrews 3:6
Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?--1 Corinthians 6:19
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!--Psalm 84:1
In the last couple of months my dream has shifted from inspiring youths to choose the straight and narrow, to ministering to women. While I have a list a mile long of things I want teenagers to know, things I wish I had known or understood better or understood at all, I have no such list for women. Fact is, it terrifies me. I'm young, I'm a bit awkward and nervous when it comes to teaching, and I feel that I have no authority to tell anyone anything. My dog barely listens to me and my son rarely does...although I blame that on the fact that neither of them as a real great grasp on English yet.
But I was fortunate enough to hear a sermon several years ago about Joshua--the man and the book. Using the first chapter of Joshua as his text this preacher explained that if the man had only trusted God, every single step he took would've been blessed. It says so right there in black and white. And then the famous, be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous, haven't I commanded you? BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! I think God wanted Joshua to be strong and courageous.
But if Joshua was anything like me, his next question would've been: how? How can I be strong, courageous, not terrified, not discouraged? Because quite frankly, taking the promised land, chasing down a dream, is daunting, especially when you feel unqualified.
So I've done a little word study using my brand spanking new Bible and it's wonderful concordance. I've never had a Bible with such a good concordance and I've made good use of it! I've read every verse with the words strong, strength, strengthen, courage, and courageous. I've written down all of them that made any sense out of context and I've tried to draw some conclusions.
I'm not quite there yet, so I won't waste your time with my fragmented throughts. But I did notice something. Something I'm still mulling over but felt ready to share. Re-read those verses I put at the very beginning of this post. Do you see how they connect?
Be strong and courageous. Don't be afraid or discouraged. Do the work. God is with you. (David is telling Solomon the same things that Joshua was told way back in Joshua 1). Why? How? Because God won't fail you. HE will see to it that all the work is finished. The work on the temple. And not just Solomon's temple, but THE temple. The church, the body and bride of Christ. And more intimately, me. I am a living temple, the dwelling place of the Spirit. And I am lovely, or being made lovely, complete, perfect.
Do the work...even when you're tired and it feels like a big floppity failure. Do the work...even when you can't think a straight thought. Do the work...even when you feel unqualified and nervous and scared. Because God is with you and God will see that the work is finished. The work in me, the work being done through me.
The Spirit of the Lord of Heaven's Armies dwells in me--whom shall I fear? What shall I fear? Failure, exhaustion, inadequacy. Ridiculous.
Here's the thing...right now, the work ahead of me is not just women's ministry, that's just the dream. To write like Beth Moore, to teach like Kay Arthur, to instruct like Lysa TerKeurst, to encourage like Angela Thomas. One part of the work for right now is to lead a women's Bible study and to teach the youth Sunday school, however bumbling. But the other part, the greater part, of the work in my life, the one I really feel unqualified for is that of wife & mother. Somehow, I didn't feel like such a hapless wife until I started feeling like such a helpless mother. Funny how insecurities can unravel you like pulling the wrong thread in a sweater. This, however, is my calling, my true ministry, my most important work. And I must do the work of mothering and help-meeting, and nurturing the men I love--my husband and my son. Even when I feel like a big floppity failure. Because it's GOD who is seeing that work will be finished on HIS dwelling place--me, my house, and my family. And no matter how I feel about myself in any given moment on any given day, He already dwells in me and therefore, I am already lovely.
And this is my verse, the one I'm clinging to in order to do the work and see it through each day...
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him--2 Chronicles 16:9
If I am wholly committed, all in, not holding anything back...then He gives me His strength to do the work, to forge on, to see it through. For His glory and for my good, and for the good of the lives I touch. And that's a promise worth clinging to. Standing on even. Standing on the promises of God, my Savior!
And I promise...once I round out some more of my thoughts on this whole strong & courageous thing, I'll share. Because there's some really great stuff there, some wonderful patterns and promises. But in the meantime...do the work...