When Moses knew that time for him was running out, he gave a charge to Joshua, saying, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach” (Deuteronomy 30:11). As a man who knew his days—possibly even his hours—were numbered, he gave it to him straight. He said that obedience is a choice, a decision which you make. And with obedience comes blessing; with disobedience comes difficulty.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
Then he commanded, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). For a moment, think of what God said in relation to your own life. “Wait just a minute,” you may be saying. “Isn’t that an Old Testament promise, but you are talking about our lives today?” It’s true. This was the first time God ever made such a promise. And you do find it in the book of Deuteronomy—an Old Testament book. It’s part of what our Jewish friends refer to as the Torah—foundational to Judaism. But you also find that promise twice in the New Testament, a promise Jesus made to His disciples. And that fact that Jesus made such a powerful statement and promise frames the Christian’s life in an entirely different perspective.
Obedience, however, is a choice. Nobody forces you to do anything, but with every choice come consequences.
When a publisher asked me to write about my favorite verse, I spent two months pondering the promises of Scripture. “Which one of so very many is my favorite?” I asked myself. Finally, I concluded it was this promise. Jesus said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you!” Those words are found in the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 5. So how you respond to them depends on whether you really believe what He said, taking Him at His word, or vacillate, not really sure whether or not He will be there for you when you need Him.
Obedience, however, is a choice. Nobody forces you to do anything, but with every choice come consequences. As in Moses day, our response should be the same: simple obedience. Following the promise that God would be with them, he said that their response required three things: The were to (1) be strong; (2) be courageous, and (3) be fearless. Then Moses gave a promise which enables even us to do this: “He will never leave you nor forsake you!”
The Christian life is a walk of faith, a decision you make, a choice which is marked by simple obedience to what God has called you to do. It is also one which, at times, demands courage and fearless action. But, knowing that the Lord is with you makes those tough decisions a whole lot easier. It also relieves you of a tremendous amount of uncertainty.
When Francis Schaeffer launched the work of L’Abri in Switzerland, he formulated four principles upon which the work was built. For years, I’ve carried a copy of those in the back of my daily schedule as a reminder of the fact that God doesn’t change His mind. Schaeffer’s third principle was, “That God will plan the work and unfold His plan day by day. (This is in place of planning for the future in the usual ‘efficient way,’ such as committee meetings).”
God continues to unfold his plan day by day in simple obedience to Him as we let Him work through us, accomplishing His will and purpose. As in Moses’ day, obedience still requires the same thing: Be strong, be courageous, and be fearless. But with the promise of His presence and protection, what else could anyone ask? Think about it.
Resource reading: Deuteronomy 31