Read Joshua 1
Life skills. I can teach those to my kids. Let's learn how to cook, bake, make a bed, unload the dishwasher, weed the garden.
We get through the day with a skill set that is essential. How would a mom cope if she couldn't 14 household chores at once? She would learn quick, that's for sure.
I was sorting clothes with my two girls, the colored ones going in the washer, the whites in a pile on the floor. Inevitably, I was pulling whites out of the washer, half wet, and saying, "This is white, so we'll put it in the next load." The girls quickly lost interested and went off to play. I wanted to be off playing too, especially since this wasn't my last chore of the day. There was folding the load of clothes in the dryer and putting them away before little people dismantled my hard work.
And don't forget the never ending chore list that has normal moms dropping into bed each night, later than they hoped, with exhaustion.
This schedule takes more than life skills. This simple mothering fact had not donned on me really until a children's song and Joshua 1 drilled it into my head. It takes more than skills. It takes courage.
I guess I thought I was super mom, juggling the to-do's while staying mostly sane, fighting through the I-don't-want-to's with only a few sighs of frustration.
The song goes something like this:
It takes courage. Courage to face the day.
It takes courage. Only God can show the way.
No matter what your circumstance, He always stays the same.
It takes courage.
The catchy tune comes after the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those guys had some courage. Refusing to bow down to a false god, they faced a fiery furnace so hot it instantly killed the guards who threw them in. Those in the distance watched in awe as 4 men appeared to walk around in the flames unharmed. God sent an angel to protect them, they were not in danger, but still it took courage.
Does my normal hectic day take courage? Do I tremble in fear or anxiety over things I must face? The part in the song that kept getting stuck in my head was "courage to face the day." Not just courage on the fiery-furnace days, but courage on too-much-laundry-not-enough-energy-or-patience-kind of days.
God talked a lot about courage and strength to his servant Joshua. Moses had died, the Promised Land was in the Israelite's grasp, and Joshua was put in charge. No small order, but the LORD said, "Be strong and courageous." The message was so important that "be strong and courageous" is encouraged 3 times in 4 verses, along with "I will never leave you nor forsake you," "Do not be afraid," "Do not be discouraged," and "The LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:5-9).
Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, and/or pain without fear. And to have the courage of one's convictions, to act in accordance with one's beliefs, especially in spite of criticism (Dictionary.com).
Our normal days require us to face difficulty for sure. Ever wrangled a point-of-purchase candy bar out of the hands of a screaming toddler in a crowded grocery store? Courage. What donned on me with a repetitious children's song and some repetitious verses in Joshua is that I don't get through my day on my strength alone. And even with God's help, I still have the choice to fear my responsibilities or embrace them.
By teaching my children life skills, it might be valuable in the world's eyes, but real life takes more. My grown-up children will need more to get through their days than just an amazing skill set. Teaching them courage and dependence on God is essential.
The fiery furnace or enemy's army might be a strong-willed child or a pile of laundry today (or both!). Joshua's pep-talk from the LORD himself says it best, "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” (Verse 9).
Author's note: The chidlren's song and stories are from a audio tape set I found at a garage sale. The series is compelling even for adults and tells beloved Bible stories in an engaging way for young children. I highly recommend Wild and Wacky Totally True Bible Stories, by Frank Peretti.