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Be strong and courageous

We have just started a series on the book of Joshua, which begins with a call to be strong and courageous. Joshua is to lead God’s people (that takes strength) and even more he will need to lead them into the promise land and overtake their enemies (lots of strength). In the midst of intimidating circumstances God tells Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, ESV, emphasis added).

Joshua is to be strong and courageous and not give into fear. The reason he can be strong and not fearful is because God is with him. If God is with you what more do you need? His presence is enough! 

This is a popular verse to share with others. While I was preparing this message I kept sending it to people who told me they were dealing with fears. We all have fears and we need to face them. Joshua teaches us to hit those fears head on. 

Fear from Imagination

I read an article that also got me thinking about fear. The article was about director Steven Spielberg and his 1977 blockbuster movie Jaws. The movie is a thriller about a great white shark lurking around the coast of Maine. To film the movie they made a huge mechanical shark, but after filming began they ran into a problem. The shark had been tested in fresh water, but it could not handle the ocean’s salt water. After malfunctioning it sank to the ocean floor, and Spielberg thought he was sunk too.

With no shark Spielberg was forced to come up with an alternative, and what he came up with was an even more brilliant way to enhance the terror and suspense. One of the most notable and influential aspects of Spielberg's groundbreaking blockbuster is the fact that the terrifying beast, that is the focus of the movie, is unseen for most of the film’s running time! Instead, a fast-moving dorsal fin is shown in one scene and in another a large shadow in the water. Throw in the foreboding music of John Williams and there you have it. A theatrical masterpiece. The great take away is this: what you think may be lurking is worse than what is actually there! The imagination is greater than reality. 

There are certainly fearful situations that we need to stand strong in, but many of our fears are for things that simply are not there, and we convince ourselves the situation is far worse than it is. Be strong, be courageous and hit your fears head on. As you do, you just might find the giant beasts you fear are simply shadows of something much smaller.