Joshua 1:9, "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."
The 2011 film We Bought a Zoo was based on the true story of a British man named Benjamin Mee. In 2006 Mee and his family purchased and moved into a 30-acre zoo. In his book with the same title, Mee says that his new "neighbors" included "five Siberian tigers, three African lions, nine wolves, three big brown European bears, four Asian short-clawed otters, two flamingos, a Brazilian tapir called Ronnie, some large boa constrictors, and a tarantula."
The zoo was dangerously rundown. Mee was faced with a series of challenges, including dealing with a rat infestation, and finding enough money to feed the animals. On the fourth day of their new lives, the jaguar escaped, endangering the neighborhood. Despite the difficulties, Mee and his family restored the zoo into a place of beauty and safety that provided healing for themselves and for their surrounding community.
But it wasn't easy. Mee admitted, "There were lots of times when I thought, What have I done?" So why did he buy and remodel the zoo? In the film version, Mee (played by Matt Damon), says, "Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it." [Mark Batterson, All In (Zondervan, 2013), page 79.]
That's not just a great line from well-written screenplay. It can change the plotline of your life. That's about how long it took for Peter to get out of the boat. That's about how long it took for David to charge Goliath. That's about how long it took for Zaccheus to climb the sycamore tree. That's about how long it took Joshua, after God told him that it was time to cross over and take the promised land, to turn to the Isrealites and proclaim, "It's go time."
And it took courage. Twenty seconds of insane courage to set their minds to it. There was plenty to be fearful of. They were marching into the unknown. When they crossed the Jordan there would be no going back. And what did they know of war and tactics? It was their father's generation who reported that the people of the land were giants. That mythology would have been handed down.
If you've ever been overmatched, outgunned, in over your head, then you understand the fear inherent in Joshua's situation. But God's voice was ringing in his head as he turned to the Isrealites to give the command, his words echoing in his mind, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid." But I wonder if Joseph's twenty seconds of insane courage was based on the promise that followed, "for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
And God lead them into the promise land. To make a mockery of fear, when they came upon the fortified city of Jericho God sent, not the army, but the marching band against the city. They marched around the walled fortress and then blew their horns.
I can't help but wonder if God smiled a little when he flicked the walls down. I know the Isrealites must have smiled as they rushed into the city. No longer would they fear. They had learned the lesson, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31b).
All you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.
Be strong and courageous.
Prayer: Our Father God, you have not given us a spirit of timidity but of courage. Though we do not know what lies ahead, though we may be outmatched and outgunned, though it may seem an impossible thing you ask, grant us the twenty seconds of insane courage to set our minds to it. We will go if only you will go with us. In Jesus name, amen.