The unknown holds a certain fear-the uncertainty of what’s yet to be revealed. The inability to see what’s around us and in front of us can cause our hearts and minds to freeze and retreat, to hold back and ignore. Many of us wouldn’t necessarily consider ourselves the be control freaks, but many of us would agree that we feel a certain level of comfort knowing what lies ahead. This allows us the freedom to plan and navigate each step taken along the way. But, what if we’re being called into something bigger than this way of life? What if we’re being asked and even directed to step into a place that is unfamiliar and isn’t something we had exactly planned for? What do we do and how do we react when we face uncharted territory?
As believers, when confronted and called into the fear of the unknown, the only way to respond is to stop and remember the promises of God. He provides several reminders throughout both the Old and New Testaments of His constant presence-a presence we can rely on. One instance of when we see this is in the Old Testament in the Book of Joshua (fun little sidenote: the name “Joshua” comes from the Hebrew word “Yehoshua” which means “God is deliverance”). In chapter 1, the Lord spoke to Joshua after the death of His servant Moses, to prepare him to lead God’s people into the land that had been promised to them many years before this. This land had been predestined for the Israelites and it was expansive and it would provide all they could ever need. In many ways, it was an unknown region to them and would take complete trust in God from each individual to be able to move forward and take what had been promised to them.
In verses 6-9, Joshua speaks to the people and provides them encouragement for this move into a future God had already planned for them. He says, “(6)Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their ancestors to give them as an inheritance. (7)Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. (8) This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. (9)Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (CSB). Several times throughout this passage, we read phrases such as “be strong and courageous”, “do not be afraid”, and “do not be discouraged”. Joshua repeatedly speaks to the hearts of the people urging them to set aside any fear they might be experiencing. At the end of Chapter 1, we see the people repeat Joshua’s words: “Above all, be strong and courageous(b)!” Fear has no place in God’s plans for the future! The people looked to Joshua, God’s chosen servant, they looked to God’s spoken Word and fully trusted that their Lord would fully and completely take care of them onto the path that had been paved just for them.
Our unknown may not be moving into a foreign land, but, like the Israelites, it can still seem just as fearful and daunting a task as any. God tugs at our hearts at various times through life and calls us into something unexpected and unfamiliar. To heed His calling takes grit, guts, and a radical level of obedience. Every step of the way requires a deep level of faith and determination. It requires a trust that God will be there and lead us into His perfect plan while providing exactly what we need along the way. He’s promised us over and over again His prosperity and perfect peace. We just have to have the courage to jump into the unknown depths with our loving Savior.
Genesis 28:15: “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”