by: Tim Forgy
You have completed your high school years, and you have been looking forward to the day when you will take that diploma into your hand and celebrate your success up to this point in life; but part of you is looking ahead to the future with apprehension, wondering if you will be as successful in the years to come. That apprehension is very natural.
In Joshua 1, we catch up to Joshua at a similar point in his life. He had served Moses for over forty years, from receiving the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai, through the trials in the wilderness, to the brink of the Promised Land. He had served, prepared, and been trained by the man of God. He had excelled in every thing Moses had given him to do. He was comfortable and confident in his role of servant, following directions and exceeding expectations as he completed each job, passed each test, overcame each trial as Moses’ helper. Then, on the eve of his death, Moses called Joshua and told him his role was about to change. He would no longer be the follower; he would be the leader. He would no longer support the leader; he would BE the leader. Joshua was being forced out of the comfortable world of doing what he was told to a world of telling others what they should do. He looked at his new role with a little bit of fear, doubting his ability to do the job, afraid he wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations, and wondering if he would make the right decisions. GOD knew that Joshua was the man to lead His people, MOSES knew he could do it, and the PEOPLE were confident in his ability to fill Moses’ shoes. Joshua seemed to be the only one with any doubt. He was hesitant and fearful about leaving the comfort and familiarity of his place of service and preparation and stepping out into new territory. In Deuteronomy 31:7-9; Joshua 1:6-7, and 18, the common thread of everyone’s advice to Joshua was, “Be strong and of a good courage.” They all encouraged him that he could do what God had prepared him for because God would be with him. Young person, I want to give you that same encouragement.
BE STRONG. Strong people are happy people, weak people are moody people. Strong people multiply their efforts; weak people multiply their excuses. Strong people pass the baton; weak people pass the buck. Strong people conquer adversity; weak people complain about adversity. Strong people receive correction; weak people ignore correction. Let me remind you young person, whenever you cease to allow yourself to be corrected, you will grow no further past that point. Now, I’m not talking about blindly changing everything someone says is wrong about you, but I’m saying prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the validity of anyone’s suggestion about how to improve yourself in any area of your life. Strong people can excel in anonymity; weak people must be in the limelight. Strong people let their work speak for itself; weak people need recognition and approval. Strong people face their mistakes; correct their mistakes, and work to improve on them.
Be strong, young person, in who you are, in who God made you, in how God made you, and be strong in what God made you to do. Get your strength from God and from your firm belief that God made you for a reason. Nobody can minimize or trivialize that! So, don’t you minimize or trivialize what God can do through you.
Strength is not wished for and instantaneously granted; it is earned one struggle and victory at a time. Strength is developed by overcoming one obstacle at a time, resolving one conflict at a time, resisting one temptation at a time, and by one act of self-denial at a time. There is never an easy way to develop strength, but there is never any way to succeed without it.
Moreover, add to your strength, GOOD COURAGE. Not bravado or false boasting, but good courage. Not courage in self, but courage in Almighty God. Not bluster and hyperbole about what you are going to do, but a calm resolution to do what you know God is calling you to do. Good Courage allows you to take risks. Good courage allows you to fail and keep going, realizing that failure is often part of God’s plan to success. Good Courage allows you to stand alone when necessary. Good Courage lets you pursue your vision. Good Courage helps you face an uncertain future (and let’s be honest, everyone’s future is uncertain). Good Courage will give you the optimism and fortitude to attempt your goals despite opposition or ridicule from others. With Good Courage, you can be YOU, regardless of who others try to make you. Good courage will give you the peace to “wait on the Lord” when you feel pressured that you’re not moving as fast as others.
Just like Joshua, you have finished this stage of your life, and it is time to begin writing the next chapter of your life. You have earned the admiration and respect of those who gathered to celebrate your graduation with you, not because you did what nobody else has ever done, not because you did it better than anybody else, but because you have completed this part of your course. We anticipate that you will build on that success in the next part of your course, uncertain though it may be.
Three things will stop you from finishing your course with honor and success – pride, worldliness and fear. Please remember to give God the credit and the glory for your accomplishments. Remember that closeness to God will guarantee separation from the world. I pray that every day you search to find wisdom, instruction, and most importantly, God Himself in the pages of His Word. Keep the Bible as your Guidebook. Become more and more familiar with God and His thoughts. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that our culture admires someone who can quote Shakespeare, but dismisses someone who quotes the Bible. I implore you “…be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go…and the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”
Longview Baptist Temple