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A Communal Courage-Story

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people …
- Joshua 3:1

We celebrate the courage of individuals. Standing alone takes courage. Speaking up takes courage. Digging in your heels when you’re all by yourself takes courage. But the courage of individuals isn’t the only kind of courage.

Throughout the scriptures we see the courage of community. People band together to take a stand. Families speak out with diverse voices united. Committed networks dig in and accomplish together feats that would be impossible alone.

The Lord gives courage both to individuals and to communities. Joshua needed courage to lead. God’s people needed courage to follow.

Our courage-stories usually turn out to be communal courage-stories. When you belong to a church or a family, you will find yourself surrounded by fellow characters in a story that requires tremendous courage. (And if you really wanted to dig into it, the presence of the Lord turns every courage-story we’re a part of into a communal courage-story.)

The Lord often leads us to places where our own courage can never be sufficient. Imagine trying to extinguish a raging fire with a Solo cup of water. The water makes a difference, but the cup is too small. Now imagine thousands and thousands of people, pouring their cups of water onto the fire at the same time. Together they make a difference.

In today’s passage, we see God’s people head toward the Promised Land. They leave early in the morning and take days to arrive. But they wait until everyone is at the border before they cross. The next step in their journey is one they need to take together. Perhaps that’s true for us too.

What difference does it make if you view yourself as part of a communal courage-story? What would it take to reframe the area in your life where you most need courage as a communal courage-story instead of an individual courage-story?

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