By WALTER ALBRITTON
After the death of Moses, God revealed to Joshua that he was the new leader of the Israelites. The Bible does not describe how Joshua reacted to this stunning assignment though I can imagine Joshua took a deep breath and said, “Oh my goodness! Are you sure about this, Lord?”
There is reason to believe that Joshua wondered if he could handle the job for God finally reassures him by saying, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you.” Then, perceiving that Joshua seemed a bit fearful, God tells him three times, “Be strong and courageous.”
When I read this biblical story, I like to believe that God has been saying the same thing to me all my life: “Walter, be strong and courageous and rest assured I will be with you just like I was with Moses and Joshua.” But I must admit there are times when I shrink back from being strong and courageous. I get tired of trying to be strong and I even wonder if God is truly with me. In those moments I feel weak, helpless and alone. And I long for even a small sign of His presence.
I thought about this recently when my dear friend Corine Free sent me a message of encouragement which included the words of one of my favorite songs, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Corine had no way of knowing that I often walk about the house singing this hymn, especially when I am struggling with an uncertain issue. When I feel like giving up, it helps to start singing, “Have Thine own way, Lord! Thou are the Potter; I am the clay! Mold me and make me after Thy will.”
However, there are moments when I don’t feel like saying “I want to be clay in your hands, Lord.” I feel more like singing another verse in this song: “Wounded and weary, help me, I pray! Power, all power, surely is Thine! Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!” Strong and courageous? No, weak and wounded, that’s me!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the author of this song, Adelaide Pollard, had written this song as a prayer during a time of great disappointment. She had felt God calling her to go to Africa as a missionary but was unable to raise the financial support. Heartsick, and too weak to be strong and courageous, Adelaide attended a prayer meeting where she heard a woman pray, “It doesn’t matter what you bring into our lives, Lord. Just have your own way with us.” Those words stirred Adelaide’s heart and before bedtime that night she had written the song which has been loved by millions of Christians for two hundred years.
The final verse gives us the secret of how to overcome our moments of weakness and become strong and courageous. When these words become the greatest desire of our hearts, we are on the way toward living as strong and courageous disciples of our Lord:
Have Thine own way, Lord, Have Thing own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see,
Christ only, always, living in me!
As important as it is to be strong and courageous as we face the trials of life, it is even more important to let God’s Spirit help us live so that others may see Christ living in us.