Encouraging Us On – Joshua 1:6

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” – Joshua 1:6

View across the lush, cultivated fields of Kinkiizi diocese from diocesan prayer mountain, November, Uganda. (c) Victoria Byrne
View from Prayer Mountain across the lush, cultivated fields of Kinkiizi diocese, Uganda, November 2014.

It’s beautiful to look ahead and see the hope, but sometimes the destination looks so far off. It’s helpful occasionally to look back and check your progress – to see how much further ahead than you were, instead of comparing your journey to someone else’s. Annual events can provide a good moment to look back and realise what a lot of ground has been covered.

Today I attended a church network conference, and I last night I remembered how a year ago, at the same event, I threw my hat in the ring with those identifying themselves as feeling God’s encouragement to write. I remember going forward feeling pretentious; aware that I wasn’t doing any writing, as if it were a distant ambition. Fast-forward a year (and seriously, how fast does thing go?!)  I realise that what seemed quite improbable in June 2014 is now part of my real life. How encouraging that we can and do actually change!

My husband and I noticed today that one of us has often encouraged the other into something that inspires him/her, and when the other achieves it, the encourager feels more courageous to go for it themselves. We seem to leading each other into a promised land. When you encourage a friend towards a goal you know they have, you have no idea what good fruit may come of it. You may be inspired yourself.

When Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, he needed a huge amount of encouragement from God. Just look up the word ‘courage’ in an index of the Bible (a concordance) and you will see that early chapters of the book of Joshua are all about courage, because he lacked it. It’s what God was always talking to him about because he needed so much of it. Sometimes the area we’ve been most challenged in is what will be our great strength. God tells him time and time again to be courageous, not to fear, that God will go with him; and yet Joshua is famously the one who actually led the people over the border into the promised land, and was ready to lead them through the challenges that awaited them there.

I love to  read back over my  journal of what I feel like God might be saying to me and the landmarks of what he’s doing in me and my fellow travellers. I get to try out whether things I think Jesus is saying, actually prove to be so. Whole weeks of my life can pass with out record, but it’s so motivating to read it over and see patterns that were not visible at the time. These days it feels like I can see my own promised land a little more clearly than I could a year ago. We must be getting closer.

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