The wise leader of a fledgling nation knew his remaining days on earth were numbered. The people he loved were about to embark on the mission for which they had sacrificed much and waited many years. The realization of their hopes and dreams spread out before them — a country promised them by God! But it would not be theirs without a struggle. Much was uncertain about this impending invasion and what little they did know left a sense of ominous danger. Worse, their trusted leader would not be going with them. Instead, he must place this vital responsibility on the shoulders of his chosen successor, a man named Joshua.
“Be strong and of good courage” were the words that echoed across the valley to the gathered multitude. Then, singling out Joshua, the leader repeated this same command directly to him, “Be strong and of good courage.” Soon afterwards, gazing deeply into his eyes, the old patriarch repeated this injunction a third time as his final charge to Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage”! (See Deuteronomy 31.)
But there were giants in the land! The legendary enemies they were about to face were as well known for their cruelty as they were for their physical strength. Ahead of them rose an immense blockade of insurmountable obstacles. How could one have courage in the face of such fear? “The Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage comes from a focus on something greater than our fears. Over and over again Joshua was reminded that His deliverer was right there with him. This was cause for courage! And by his valiant exploits, Joshua’s name has gone down in history as a hallmark of courage.
Joshua: God is my salvation, my help, my deliverer.
Several thousand years later, another soldier named Joshua stood on a hillside in the midst of a great struggle. Five times the enemy had charged up the slopes of Little Round Top and each time his men of the 20th Maine had successfully repelled their attack. At one point he had been knocked off his feet as a bullet hit him dead center. But it providentially glanced off his belt buckle so that he could jump back on his feet and resume the fight. Now his troops were almost completely out of ammunition. Only eighty men were left standing behind the rock wall where just that morning had been three hundred. Desperately he had sent for help, but no help was coming.
The opposing army was reinforced, however, and were now getting in position for one final overwhelming charge. Joshua stepped up on top of the wall with his hands crossed, gazing down at the advancing foe. Outnumbering his regiment 5 to 1 and yelling at the top of their lungs, the enemy came sweeping up the hill once again. Huddled behind the wall, his weary men looked up at him for direction. What should he do?
He couldn’t retreat. This was the high ground. If he lost this position, the flank of the entire Union army would be exposed to an outright downhill rebel attack with no protection. Utter defeat would be swift and certain. This was Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, and the outcome of the entire American Civil War was likely hanging on the shoulders of this one schoolteacher from Maine and his beleaguered regiment. “I knew I may die,” he wrote, “but I also knew that I would not die with a bullet in my back. I would not die in retreat. I am, at least, like the apostle Paul who wrote, ‘This one thing I do, I press toward the mark.'”
“Fix bayonets!” he yelled to his astonished men. “Do it now!” Then raising his sword and pointing it toward the oncoming foe, he called out, “Charge! Charge! Charge!” With those words, Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain also went down in history as a hallmark of courage. For at the site of Chamberlain’s counter-charge, the confused enemy reeled back, threw down their weapons, and fled. The victory was his!
Lawrence: Victorious, crowned with a laurel
Three days ago, on 4/7 at 7:47 p.m., Joshua Lawrence Staddon arrived in the world, weighing 7 lbs. 4 oz. The arrival of my firstborn son brought great joy to my heart! Despite complications after delivery, his mother pulled through with courage and is now recovering well.
Have courage, my son! There is much evil in this world. There are many giants that you will face. But have courage! God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua Lawrence: Through God I have the victory!