"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9
As I read my devotion today which was based off of this verse and the preceding verses of Joshua 1:6-9, I was instantly encouraged and also reminded of a situation that happened just two days prior.
I love where I live. It is very different from where I grew up. I was a suburb gal and now I live in the city. It has a different feel and I like it. I adore my neighbors, some of whom have been here for over 50 years and have seen all the changes that time has brought. I get to hear the stories they tell of the people that have come and gone and the families that lived where I now reside.
I appreciate that we don't have an HOA. I accept that some people keep up their property differently than we do and I love the diversity of our area. We see struggles in our community, but we also see hope. A few years ago, we contemplated moving to a "nicer" part of town, something newer, but my husband and I made a conscious decision to stay where we are and be a part of the positive growth in our area.
Since we moved here 12 years ago, we have seen the effects of homelessness on a daily basis, but recently, I have been overwhelmed at the level that it's increased since the lockdowns in our country were issued. Places where there were always homeless individuals are now ravaged by an increase of people outside their establishments openly doing drugs, sleeping, leaving trash and setting up residence. The care for the mentally ill, addicted, and hurting is out of control or non existent. For that I don't have an answer.
Two days ago, as the weather became amazingly beautiful in Phoenix, AZ, I got back on my bike to run my errands that I used to save until my husband was home with the car. For this particular errand, it's about 6 mile loop. So off I went.
As I rode my bicycle under the highway underpass, I had to g0 very slow, almost walking my bike because of the amount of people camped out, passed out, actively doing meth and smoking pipes. I'm not a skittish person, so I'm typically not fearful going under highway passes surrounded by drug users. The biggest emotion I felt was shock (since, in the past, I rode here frequently and never had the pathway blocked) and sadness for those hurting.
On my way home I went through a different underpass a mile south. As I approached there was just one man picking through "stuff." He appeared to be a bit out of it, not completely aware of his surroundings. Again, I was not fearful. But as I got closer. I slowed down, he stood straight up and looked at me, almost challenging me to come through. I thought to myself, "But, God, I am not afraid" and then in an instant I felt the Spirit whispering to me "Go around." And so I did.
Being strong and courageous, not being frightened or dismayed, doesn't always mean going through, sometimes God is asking us to obey His instructions in spite of what we want to do and go around. It's being wise and yep, not being stupid.
Courage doesn't always look the way we think. Courage looks like what God thinks and what He is asking us to do. Our job is to listen and obey KNOWING that God is with us wherever we go. Because, friends, life is just one big underpass filled with messy people. Sometimes we go through, sometimes we go around, but there is always something and someone no matter which way He calls us.
If you think about it, pray for my community, pray for the hurting, the ill, the addicted. May I continue to step in where God calls me and love those I cross paths with.
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A collection of writings from a life based on the truth that about midnight anything can happen.
As an imperfect servant of the Lord, I often feel I am fumbling my way through life, looking upward for guidance and outward to love. So, I write about it, to break up the noise in my head.