Debbie Salter Goodwin
Where Courage Conquered Fear
Is courage just an over-positive accounting of your skills and belief in yourself? Is it a reckless nod to adventure and risk? What is courage made of? Hope? Optimism? Grit? An altered sense of reality? A refusal to let fear be a task-master?
Courage comes from the French word for heart. Something happens in the heart that brings whatever is needed to face the giants of any obstacle. But what changes? And how? Joshua is my mentor for this lesson.
Joshua. was the man Moses mentored to replace himself. He was God’s choice to get the Israelites off the sidelines and into the Promise.
I can just imagine Joshua grieving the death of his leader, Moses, realizing he must fill some big sandals. His most promising opportunity also exposed every weakness and insecurity he had. Could he do this? Could he be Moses for these people?
That’s where God met Joshua. That’s where God delivered truth that Joshua couldn’t see through the eyes of fear. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. This wasn’t just a pep talk. This was heart-talk.
I read Joshua’s words from God when I faced my first career job as a college professor 500 miles from home, family, and familiarity. I would teach Speech Communication, but the degree that said I was equipped for this responsibility was a poor substitute for the confidence I needed. Had I just made the mistake of a lifetime? Could I really do this? Was I ready?
Before I stood in front of my first class, I went back to Joshua. I read how God told Joshua two times to be strong and courageous because God had called him and would bring success to match his obedience. That’s when I saw the connection to a life principle I have not forgotten.
I had a choice to make: live in my insecurity and keep questioning my ability or live in the confidence of the call and empowerment of God. I understood that empowerment came from obedience. I had to obey God to find courage, not the other way around.
God speaks truth that our heart is afraid to claim. God’s truth becomes our courage. It isn’t just a supernatural overpowering or a wave of emotion that blinds us to realities. God’s truth about courage is that it is His resources backing our obedience. That’s where true courage comes from.
So Joshua became my life-long mentor. I have gone back to God’s transforming words to Joshua more than once. Here are my two ongoing life principles I learned from Joshua.
1. Whom God calls, He also prepares.
Every time I have sensed God leading me in a new direction, I look back first. When I do, I see the unmistakable signs of preparation. I see the opportunities, encounters, lessons, even tests of obedience and how they prepared me for some new responsibility or season. God never speaks into a vacuum. His direction is like a string of pearls, each one connected to take us to a new place of confidence based on His call and resources.
2. God empowers with resources that require our obedience.
This is not some generic obedience where I pat myself on the back because I don’t do the really bad stuff. This is about obedience of the heart, the place where no one will ever know whether we obey or not. No one but God, that is. I learned that the courage God gave Joshua was not in weaponry or military skill. The courage God gave Joshua happened when Joshua let his heart be trained, informed, and shaped by God. Courage came with obedience.
It is the same with us. This shaping God delivers requires that we keep our heart sensitive so that we are conscious of small nudges and quiet whispers. It means that what God wants to address in our heart becomes the raw material for the courage and empowerment He has to give.
Joshua led the people into the promised land of God. But really, Joshua let God do the leading in His heart first. When Joshua’s heart was at one with God’s heart, Joshua found the courage and boldness, the wisdom and strategies that helped him complete the job God gave him.
Nothing has changed the formula today. Not in parenting. Not in ministry. Not in the skill related work of a career. Everything God wants to give us starts in the heart.
If you want to know more about what Joshua did with the courage God gave him, download the one-page Bible study from the strip below. Let’s meet on the other side of obedience and compare notes!