Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Over the past month, I’ve been reading the book of Joshua. As I relive this familiar story, I see many lessons that apply to us today.
The book of Joshua connects promise to fulfillment. It’s the story of the people of Israel finally entering the land that God promised to Abraham. But even after the people came out of the wilderness and saw Canaan, there were still battles to be fought.
As the Israelites made the dangerous crossing of the River Jordan, they were told to keep their eyes on the Ark of Covenant, and God would lead them in the right direction. As Joshua 3:4 says, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Later, when the Israelites faced the seemingly impenetrable walls of Jericho, they followed God’s instruction and saw those walls come tumbling down. A few more faith-filled campaigns later, the Promised Land was theirs.
A theme woven through the entire book of Joshua is, “Be strong and courageous.” As we face an uncertain future, this command from Joshua 1:9 will be our focus for the 2020-21 academic year.
The MC family is coming out of our own time in the wilderness, a period of separation from each other, and from our beautiful campus due to the COVID-19 shutdown. We will be back together on campus in just a few short weeks, but we will still have battles to fight.
Like the Israelites, we will keep our eyes on God as we cross into the next semester. Only by following His lead will we know which way to go, as we have never met a challenge quite like this one – we have never been this way – before.
During the coming year, each of us will face our own “Jericho,” whether that be COVID-19 itself or the many hardships the coronavirus has caused, from injustice to financial troubles to fear of the unknown. God will lead us in the battle against these things that threaten us.
As we move forward in pursuit of God’s promises for our lives, our university, and our futures, we will be strong and courageous. We will not be afraid or discouraged, because we know that the Lord God will be with us, wherever the academic year ahead takes us.
Please visit mc.edu/strong for a look at our 2020-21 battle plan. This website will provide all of the information you will need to navigate the new procedures we’ve put into place to protect the health and safety of our community and to keep our campus open.
I’ll share one more thought from my reflections on Joshua. This book also recounts the personal story of Joshua, outlining his growth as a leader. Joshua gained victory against overwhelming odds not because he was a great military strategist, but because he put his faith in God and led the people boldly where God was leading him. In the coming weeks and months, I ask you to pray for me to find that same faith-led strength and courage that Joshua demonstrated. Please pray that I will have the wisdom and the confidence to make the right choices to lead Mississippi College boldly in the direction that God would have us go.
As we start the new academic year together, be strong and courageous. The same God who led the Israelites to the Promised Land and collapsed the walls of Jericho is with us now.
Be strong and have courage,
Dr. Blake Thompson