COMMANDING STRENGTH AND COURAGE

God’s Word often challenges us right to our very core. God commands us to trust and obey Him even when the circumstances around us seem absolutely overwhelming. Out of God’s love for us, He demands our trust and promises to be with us wherever we go.

“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.”            – Joshua 1:9

I lost it. I totally lost it. I was okay right until that moment. God had held me together through His amazing and powerful grip on my spirit, on my mind and on my words for over the past week. I had been able to share my faith openly and honestly with my family – who usually didn’t want to hear about Jesus. Not again. Not from me.

It was May 1981. My Oldest Brother was dead at twenty-four. His funeral wouldn’t be for at least a week due to numerous logistical details. I lived about two hours away. No need to rush back. Tim was away on business. I was alone. And God used that week powerfully. I took calls from my different family members, without the others knowing. Each had deep, real, heart-broken, soul-searching, God-searching questions. I was the Jesus-freak in the family. So they called me. With God’s love, presence, strength and courage, I quietly shared from Scripture and from my heart the hope I have in Jesus. God was using even My Oldest Brother’s death to open up ways for God’s Word and love to be poured into my family’s life. I had been praying for each of them for years. Witnessing to them for years. Ridicule was often their response. At best, I was blown-off and ignored. Yet, during that painful, and amazing, week before My Oldest Brother’s funeral, God gave me time to share Christ’s eternal love and salvation with different members of my family.

Then, I lost it. Totally lost it. Driving back from the funeral home, we hit a bunny. And with the death of that little bunny, I was flooded with my own grief and shock over My Oldest Brother’s sudden death. I was overcome with passionate urgency for each one in my family to accept the salvation of Jesus. I desperately wanted them to know and accept the love of God. I ached in my deepest soul, calling for each one to, “Turn around! Run into the arms of Jesus! Right now, before it’s too late!” But it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t seeing it. I was blinded with grief and fear. Death comes so suddenly. For people. For bunnies. I was blinded from hope. I was afraid and discouraged. When would my family turn to God? When would the twistedness and sickness within my family be ended? How was I going to keep going in my relationship with them? How was I going to keep sharing Jesus with them? They had wanted some of Jesus from me, privately on the phone. But now they were all back to keeping me, and my faith, at a distance. Keeping me shut out. Even from loving them. When would they ever be saved and healed?

As Tim drove, I sobbed hysterically, out-of-control. Tim yelled at me. Just once. Very loudly. He needed to command my attention, so that I could remember the command of God. I am not to be afraid or discouraged by my fear or pain. I am to open my eyes and heart to God’s powerful, peace-giving truth: God is with me and will be with me wherever I go. Yes! My God of commanding strength and courage is with me. I can, and I am commanded to, trust Him.

I do. And, eventually, so did each precious member of my family. Thanks be to Jesus!