Updated: Aug 31
I have a profound love and respect for the Old Testament of the Bible. I have been drawn to it since I broke beliefs with my cult group and now read Richard Hess’, The Old Testament, for fun. I highly recommend it.
Without proper instruction, the Old Testament allows so much room for misinterpretation and division among the members of the church. These texts are in the prime position to be twisted and turned by cult leaders or by those desiring to advance their own agenda. The Old Testament was the foundation for the group I was raised in, with so many verses taught out of context, to the detriment of Christianity’s beauty. In truth, this testament is deeply rich and offers an abundance of wisdom for me to live by.
As I have been studying my way through the Old Testament this year, I have noticed a theme that I had not noticed in previous years: a repeated response to fear.
During previous readings, I had tuned into the encouragement given to Joshua multiple times, imploring him to be “strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6-9). I knew that repetition highlights how important an instruction is: when God repeats himself, the message can be read as if underlined with bolded italics. Similarly, if I were to say the same thing to my son 3 times in a row (“Don’t run into the street, Don’t run into the street, Don’t run into the street”), this would indicate importance, to please pay attention.
But I had never noticed this same instruction, to be strong and courageous, having been given in other books of the Old Testament as well. For example, King David speaks these words to the men who buried Saul (2 Samuel 2:7), then again, in his farewell speech to Solomon when he passes his kingdom on to his son (1 Chronicles 28:20).
In times of high stakes, be strong and courageous. A repeated instruction given to those called to serve the Lord when fear could get in the way by inhibiting faithful obedience.
As I have worked through various fears over the past few months, I know that this is God’s response to those fears. As I step forward to tell the story of what God has done for me in my life, and as I choose to persist through fears of misunderstanding, misjudgment, and retaliation, I know this is God’s directive:
Be strong and courageous.
But I am not expected to just be strong and courageous, as if magically, by myself.
God is with me (Joshua 1:9; 1 Chronicles 28:20). He will help me, if I reach out to him and rely on him. He will share his strength and courage with me. His are so much more reliable than mine.
I hear him saying to me:
As you come out of hiding and tell them what I have done for you; as you remove the secrecy from your story, and take a stand on our relationship being the most important relationship you have, be strong and courageous. Be bold.
Share your testimony.
Tell our story.
Boldly proclaim your narrative.
Is he saying this to you, too?