Perhaps... You Can Be Strong and Courageous
In his sermon last Sunday, Lead Pastor John Parker encouraged us to consider what moment of "perhaps" God might have us step into. As John said, "Perhaps is something that lives in the place where we find our faith. Faith is where certainty ends and confidence in God begins." This week, we'll be posting a short series of devotionals written by Summit staff about biblical examples of individuals taking a step into "perhaps"—and being used by God even in the midst of uncertainty.
When I first began volunteering with Surge, the middle school ministry here at Summit, it was led by Cheez. Yes, Cheez is a person. A really great person, actually. I’d say he’s one of my favorites. More than just a great person, he was clearly a great leader of students. He told the most hilarious and engaging stories that somehow always perfectly made Jesus’ love a little more real to students. He did the best skit characters, always the right balance of silly and sincere. Maybe most importantly of all, every one of us who volunteered for him knew how much he cared about us. (In case this is starting to sound a bit like a eulogy, rest assured that Cheez is alive and well.) Eventually I was given the opportunity to follow in Cheez’s footsteps as the leader of Surge. As excited as I was for the opportunity, I was also afraid. My mind was filled with thoughts like, “I’m not Cheez. I can’t tell stories like Cheez does. I can’t do characters like Cheez does (I’m the worst with accents). I can’t care for people as well as Cheez does.”
Early in the Old Testament, we meet a fellow named Joshua. He keeps busy by leading the Israelite nation in battle, spying in enemy territory, and generally assisting another guy you may have heard of—Moses. In the book of Numbers, we learn that God appoints Joshua to become the new leader of the Israelites upon Moses’ death. Now, as anxious as I was to live up to the precedent set by Cheez, I can hardly imagine how Joshua felt following Moses! All Moses did was stand up to Pharaoh, lead a nation of people across the parted Red Sea, bring the Ten Commandments down from the mountaintop, and generally serve as the mouthpiece of God to the people for 40 years. Taking over as the new leader of the Israelites should be no big deal, right?
It seems God had some idea of what Joshua was stepping into, because He gives Joshua quite the pregame speech. Here’s the closing line: “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.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT) Since Joshua was about to lead the nation into the Promised Land against a massive enemy, he was going to need that strength and courage. Thankfully, God gives him the one thing he needs to know to have strength and courage—that God was with him every step of the way.
Whether or not we’ve followed in the footsteps of someone we admire, we all know that fear of not being able to measure up to the task before us. Maybe you feel that fear surrounding something before you right now. Maybe you have a vision for the future that you’re struggling to believe is possible. Fear can overwhelm and keep us from moving forward. But our fear is not the whole story. Perhaps you’re not here by accident. Perhaps God’s given you what you need to follow the vision He’s placed on your heart. Perhaps you can be strong and courageous, because you know that God is with you wherever you go.
Ryan is Herndon's Middle School Minister. He also writes for the Summit blog, SUMMIT MAGAZINE, and our Sermon Study Guides.