"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
This morning I read these words from Moses' parting exhortations to the Israelites as he prepared to commission Joshua just prior to his final glimpse of the promised land before he died. Given that I often find myself thinking about Jesus' call for us to be His witnesses in the world and how we might go about doing that in our generation and context, and also given the fact that this call is something that I often find incredibly nerve wracking (to say the least!), I thought that this was a very apt reminder for me - and hopefully others too.
Because as we journey through this time of Lent, making our way towards Good Friday and Easter, and particularly as we spend some of this time thinking and reflecting on Jesus' - His life and ministry, I think that these are apt words for us all to hear. Because Jesus' life and ministry was not an easy one: He faced the abuse of the friends and relatives who thought He'd gone mad; He faced the sudden obstruction of Peter who one minute proclaimed Him as Messiah, and the next tried to thwart God's plan; He faced the opposition of the authorities who from early in His ministry were seeking a way to kill Him; and, ultimately, He bore the excruciating anguish of a mock trial, flogging, and crucifixion - with the weight of our sin laid solely on His shoulders.
And as I read those words this morning a bit of me couldn't help wondering whether or not Jesus, somewhere in the midst of all of that, might not have recalled those same words from the end of the Torah - which He would have known so well. And that as He faced the most challenging of ministries, culminating in an awful and unfair trial and death, that Jesus might have been encouraged as He was reminded that no matter how He felt, that the LORD His God would never leave nor forsake Him.
And for us too (or certainly me at least) as I seek to live for God despite the often painful awareness of my fears and failings,I am certainly strengthened and encouraged by His word which, once again, proves itself to be "Living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword." And I am so thankful that no matter how daunting a situation may appear - just as entering into the Promised Land would have seemed to the Israelites under Joshua, that God goes with us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us.