Daily Devotion – May 21, 2020 – Erin Bjerke
“…I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
This has been my favorite verse for a long time. I first became familiar with it when I was a camper at Red Willow Bible Camp. I would have been in upper elementary school at the time, and even though I went to camp several years in a row, I was homesick. I wanted to be at camp, but I was also had a hard time being away from home. This verse gave me comfort that God was with me, even when I was away from home.
This verse comes at the beginning of the book of Joshua, which begins with Moses’s death in the wilderness. Joshua was Moses’s assistant and also his successor as leader of the Israelites. When Joshua was much younger, he and a man named Caleb were two of the twelve spies that went to scout out the land of Canaan before the Israelites were to overtake it (Numbers 13 & 14). While they were in the land of Canaan, they found it “flowing with milk and honey.” It was a very rich land—definitely the Promised Land! They even brought back a bunch of grapes that was so big that it took two people to carry it! The problem was that the other ten spies were scared—they didn’t want to go fight the people that were there and overtake the land. They convinced the other Israelites to be scared, too, and as a result, God sent the people of Israel to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until everyone who was an adult at the time of the spies had died off. Everyone, that is, except Joshua and Caleb.
After the forty years, Joshua was the leader of the descendants of those people who were too scared to go into the Promised Land, and it was time to try again. In the first nine verses of the book of Joshua, God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous” three times! Why? Because God is with him! God is with God’s people Israel. This time, they were ready to fight to take over the land.
This promise that God will be with me wherever I go (both literally and figuratively) has been a comfort to me at various times in my life. Another time that comes to mind is when I studied abroad in Spain for three and a half months. You know how I was a homesick kid? Well, even as a senior in college, I was nervous to be away from home for an entire semester! I still had a pin that I had made at camp with Joshua 1:9 written on it. I made sure to pin it to my backpack to remember that God would be with me—even across the ocean!
Lord of all the earth, you are with us wherever we go, in whatever new challenge we take on, and in whatever happens. Thank you for your eternal presence. Please remind us of it every day. Amen.