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Crossing the River of Fear


In three days, you will cross the Jordan River. This is my command—
be strong and courageous! 
For the Lord your God is with
you wherever you go.”  
Joshua 1:9-11

The river was dark with fear: hesitations, doubts, timidity. On this side the people of Israel. On the other, the land of God’s promise. Just step in. Walk across. Easy! Right?


There were two problems: the first physical, the second spiritual. The Jordan was at flood stage: wide, deep, fast, dangerous. God worked a miracle. The waters stopped. The river dried up. Problem one solved.

The people had to solve the problem two. God was going to carry them across. They had to walk. The river of fear had to be crossed on foot. The only solution was courage.

Life sometimes takes us to the banks of fearful rivers. God is not going to carry us across.  “Step in and walk,” He says, “Time to get going.” That first step can be terrifying! How do you take it?

God gave Joshua a command: “Be strong and courageous.” Courage? It’s hard but not an option. “Lift up your drooping hands,” Hebrews says, “and strengthen your weak knees” (Hebrews 1:12).

God also gave a promise. “I will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).  Sounds like Jesus, “I am with you even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Are you standing before a river of fear? God has brought you to it. Your task is to gather courage. God will supply His presence.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. . . and they will not overwhelm you” (Isaiah 43:2).

Challenge: If you are on the banks of a river of fear, take the first step, even if your knees shake. God will walk with you.

Prayer: Father, I’m scared to death of the next step. Help me to gather my courage and find strength in you.

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Guy Saffold

I’ve observed leaders for many years, always asking the question, “What should a person do to lead in more Christian ways?” It’s often not an easy question to answer in the midst of the day-to-day events that whirl around a leader. Here I explore some of the dilemmas and answers. I also post some devotional thoughts about the application of biblical teaching.