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The Elephant in the Room

How you view an elephant depends on whether you stand in awe of or in fear of the elephant.

Observed in a zoo, an elephant can fill us with wonder. Generations marvel at their size and intelligence when they get to see them up close in a controlled environment.

If you're on a safari to observe an elephant in the wild, there’s an element of danger to the experience. You observe it in wonder, yet your heart races if one gets too close.

To a villager in a country where elephants are a native species, an elephant is a threat that could destroy his crops or threaten his life.

How you view the elephant is more than a matter of perspective. Your perception of the elephant is determined by how you’re engaged in the experience.

At the zoo, you’re an observer—external to the elephant’s environment. On safari, you’re an observer in the elephant’s native environment. The villager shares his environment with the elephant.

In wonder and fear, your experience shapes your perception.

The historic stories of the nation of Israel are filled with wonder and fear. As God guided them and revealed himself, they were filled with wonder. As other nations threatened them, they were filled with fear.

These words are encouraging, read them:

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:6-9, New Living Translation (NLT).

When circumstances filled Israel with fear, God’s words to them were, “Be strong. Be courageous. Obey me. Then you will be successful.”

In the context of the book of Joshua, these words are commands to the young nation of Israel. For a believer in the body of Christ and through the lens of time and history, they are truths that remind us that God’s commands and promises haven’t changed: “Be strong. Be courageous. Obey me. Then you will be successful.”

Every day brings challenges. Some disguise themselves as blessings, and we marvel at God’s providence as we manage them.

Other challenges fill us with fear, and become “the elephant in the room” — the situation you don't want to face.

What’s the elephant you’re facing today? What’s the challenge that is paralyzing you with fear, or challenge that is overwhelming to manage?

Either way, don’t run from the fears or challenges you face. Face them. Fix them. Deal with them. Manage them. Trust God with them.

Don’t be afraid. Be strong and courageous. Obey God. Then you will be successful.

Image by Andy Brunner

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