I came across this verse from 1 Chronicles 22 in my Bible reading today, and it was an exhortation that I needed to hear. We often hear these words “be strong and courageous,” and associate them with the story of Joshua in the Old Testament. In the first chapter of that book, the Lord basically tells Joshua, “Yes, I know that your trusted mentor, Moses, just died and everything, but we still have important work to do! I’m putting you in charge now, and I need you to step it up a notch so that you can lead My people to the Promised Land. Now don’t freak out! I’m still going to be with you through it all. You can trust Me.”
God tells us much the same thing today, too.
In this verse from 1 Chronicles 22, I think it’s interesting that the person speaking these words is David, and he is encouraging and exhorting his son (and future king), Solomon. It’s a good chapter, and in my view, David is essentially advising his son – who would eventually lead an incredibly prosperous and thriving kingdom – to stick close to the Lord no matter what; and in so doing, he’d not likely be lured away by the deceptive temptations that would inevitably come his way.
I believe that the Lord has a similar message for us today as well – especially for those of us called to leadership.
In my view, David’s father-to-son message has four key parts – two DOs, and two DO NOTs:
- DO be strong;
- DO be courageous;
- DO NOT fear;
- DO NOT be dismayed.
So what does this have to do with climbing [a mountain, presumably]? I’m not a real outdoorsy person or anything, but my understanding is that if you’re going to climb a mountain, then you must be equipped for the journey, and train over time to endure the steep trek. You don’t just wake up one day and decide to scale Mount Everest! It requires a firmness of mind and body, and such strength takes time, too.
Also, tremendous courage is required to scale a mountain. Most of us, if we are honest, are comfortable with walking around on the flatlands, and pat ourselves on the back when we safely travel across a modest hill or two. But climb a mountain? No way! Most of us would go running in the other direction. Indeed, the conscious decision to overcome an obstacle – rather than seeking a way around it – requires a remarkable amount of courage.
Faced with such a predicament, fear can be our inevitable go-to detour on our walk of faith. After all, who wouldn’t be afraid to scale a mountain? What if the weather suddenly changes? What if you lose your footing? What if you get lost? There are lots of logical reasons to be fearful, but if we keep our eyes focused on the Lord, then He can give us the guidance that we need and the peace that we seek, even in the most difficult of times.
Should I have a healthy fear of the prospect of climbing a mountain? Definitely (and if you didn’t, I would be concerned for you). But should that fear keep me from trying to overcome the obstacles in my life? No. Start with a modest hill that you can see, conquer one of those, and then trust that the Lord will send bigger hills (and more of them!) further down the path. After all, a mountain is simply a really big hill when you stop to think about it.
Finally, David cautions Solomon against becoming dismayed. To me, dismay is several notches deeper than fear. Dismay indicates that one has lost hope, and is stuck in a place of discouragement. When we get to this place, it can be easy for us to lose our way when we do not see God at work in our circumstances. When this happens, panic sets in, and our emotions and negative thoughts can easily override our faith. A pitstop in dismay is natural at times, but Lord willing, it will never be our final destination!
I believe that when you make the first two choices – to be strong and courageous – then it’s easier to stay away from the fear and dismay.
Also, I don’t think that we choose our mountains – rather, as we’re walking along the path that God has set before us, the mountain (which has always been there) begins to come more clearly into view. When we see the mountain, we have a few choices:
- We can choose to turn around and go backto where we were before;
- We find some way to circumvent the mountain – although this approach often takes us off-course from our ultimate destination.
There is a third option, however: CLIMB, and trust that the Lord will train, equip, and guide us for the journey ahead.
So how will you respond to the mountains that you are facing in your life? Remember that He who made the mountain also has the power to guide you safely up and over it. Let’s climb! ⛰
PS – This is the message that the Lord had for me today, as I have been struggling with some mountains and fear in my own life. I am simply recounting to you what I have been learning. The reality is that everyone encounters mountains of some shape and size, and we all eventually experience seasons of fear and dismay. However, I’m learning that the manner in which we approach our journey – anchored in a biblically informed perspective – really can make all the difference.