What would you do if you had the assurance you wouldn’t fail? What would you set out to do if you were guaranteed to succeed? What would you try? What would you buy? What adventure would you embark on?
Honestly I don’t like questions like that. My first response is “why bother even thinking that way when it’s not a reality?”
But let’s play along for just a little bit…
The possibilities are kinda endless, aren’t they? If we could actually pull that off, then “dream it and do it” would be our mantra. It’d be fun to live like this. It’d be exciting to live with guaranteed success. Every day would be a new challenge to think big, get creative, stretch beyond the boundaries, move beyond our comfort zones, then sit back and enjoy the ride.
There’s a story in the Old Testament book of Joshua about a guy named Joshua (go figure). The leader of a few million people had just died. And Joshua was next in line to get this same group of stubborn, childish, difficult, selfish, and pain in the neck people over into the Promised Land. Moses, the prior leader, had failed. It was Joshua’s turn to rise up and lead. That’s one tall order.
So God gave Joshua a little pep talk. He said, “Get ready…I will give you every place where you set your foot…No one will be able to stand up against you…I will never leave you or forsake you…You will lead these people to inherit the land…” (Joshua 1:2-6). Basically God told Joshua that he wouldn’t fail, that he was guaranteed success.
If I were leading this same group of challenging folks, I’d need more than a little pep talk from God. I’d need a big one. A great big, thoroughly convincing, no doubt about it, signed, sealed, delivered stamp of approval from God. That’s basically what Joshua got.
And over and over again, in the midst of Joshua’s fear or doubt that he had to have been feeling, God said “be strong and courageous.” Four times in the first chapter of Joshua God said “be strong and courageous.”
As I think about the things God wants me to do, all too often my first response is, “Why bother?…It won’t work…It’s just a waste of time…Why try?” If I just had that assurance of success like Joshua had, I’d go for it every time. But here’s the thing: It’s not the assurance that we’ll succeed in our plans, it’s the assurance in the One who holds the plans. It’s not the plans, the goal, nor the end result that should capture our attention. It’s the One who prepares us, the One who goes before us, the One who’ll never leave us nor forsake us.
Success isn’t guaranteed. But God’s presence is. God’s love is. God’s faithfulness is. God’s grace is. God’s forgiveness is. And I’m pretty sure at the end of the day, these are the things we can be strong and courageous about.