f e a r LESS!
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
When I was in the 9th grade, my mom and I were robbed on our back porch. The burglar not only took our shopping bags, our house keys, our purses and money, but he also took my courage and confidence. For months, I watched out the window and peeped out the door, afraid that he would come back. I would grab a catnap when I came home from school and then stay up all night. If I heard any noise in or around the house, I would jump up to look out the window. It was terrible! I was horrified! I was irritable and tired and it was all because someone had come in and taken my courage.
My mom told me to not focus on fear and gave me 2 Timothy 1:7 to read and memorize and recite any time I became fearful. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. Eventually, I gained a little more courage. I was able to sleep at night and rest after a few months. But that fear never truly left me. I was always waiting on the burglar to come back to our home. However, he never came back and I wasted so many hours fearing what would come.
In today’s verse, God gave Joshua the charge to move forward and take the Children of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. However, He first told Joshua, “Moses, my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:2). It was now up to Joshua to lead the people. I love that God hits Joshua with the truth, with the reality that Moses is dead, but then gives him a few unwavering promises… “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses (Joshua 1:3); No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Not only did God give Joshua several promises, but He also gave him a command that he repeats several times: Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18).
In October of 2000, Bishop Paul Morton came to Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, TN and preached from this very verse. I remember his booming voice across the pulpit quoting the scripture, “Moses, my servant is dead.” In the moment, God spoke to my spirit and whispered quietly that it was time for Sandra to take her rest. That October my mother flat lined during surgery, but I was like Hezekiah and turned my face to the wall to ask for more time (Isaiah 38:2). I was so fearful, scared and afraid to lose my mom, my best friend, my confidante, and my champion. I wasn’t like Joshua; I could not go on. I was not strong or courageous. I still suffered from anxiety and fear from that burglar who robbed us when I was in middle school 10 years earlier. I was in no way, shape or form strong enough to bury my mom. God granted my prayer request for more time.
God extended grace upon grace and grace (John 1:16) to our family. He granted my mom 5 more months (5 is the number of grace) of life. During those days and months, I never forgot Bishop Morton’s sermon.
In February of 2001, 5 months after the initial scare, the Lord welcomed my mom into Heaven. I could hear God’s voice so clear the day my mom passed away, “Sandra my servant is dead.” But just like He did for Joshua, God spoke to me time and time again to remind me to be strong and courageous. Two things that I had NEVER proclaimed to be – strong or courageous. I recall 2001 for various reasons, my mother died and only a few months later thousands would die at the hand of terrorists during the 9/11 attacks. The same fear that assaulted me when I was robbed on my porch as a child, came over me the day the towers were hit. In those moments, I remembered the scripture that my mom gave to me… God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
My mom was my strength and my courage; but now I was given the charge to be strong and courageous. I learned in those days and months after my mother’s death the true meaning of strength and courage. I would need it as I made funeral arrangements, petitioned the court for custody of my younger sister, endured a custody battle, looked for a new job, started a career, purchased a house and started raising a 10-year-old vibrant little girl.
And just like He promised Joshua, God did not and has not left my side. He made me a promise and He that promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Since that day I have relied and rested on Joshua 1:9 so many times. I have learned that courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward in spite of it.
Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11 and the 18th year since my mother’s death, I encourage you to be fearLESS and fear LESS because God has got your back. Regardless of what you have faced or are facing, He promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you and that He will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:5; 9). Live in the Red and remember that you are loved and forgiven!