Chazaq | Joshua 1:9

breath of life handmade tyler texas tx one word be strong and courageous joshua 1:9

In the book of Joshua, the LORD passes the anointing from Moses onto Joshua and promises him that He will be with him wherever he goes, if he will only be “strong and courageous”.

I long thought this verse meant to push aside your fears, “cowboy up”, and charge into battle. Trust Him in all our ways, and we will be successful whichever way we turn.

While that concept is partially true, how the story plays out in the passages that follow aren’t exactly what we imagine when the phrase gets used in our culture today.

Joshua, a victorious and seasoned warrior, is charged with leading the entire nation of his brethren across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land of Canaan, where giant grapes and giant people await him.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!”…

I have heard the emphasis put on the latter part, when in context of time and place, I think Joshua may have heard the word “command” and been reminded of the previous years of his life that he spent at the foot of a mountain, and in the wilderness, learning about who his God really is; and the commands that were given to become the chosen people of God… A different kind of nation… A nation of Priests sent to make the LORD’s name known.

The stories ahead of this powerful moment in Scripture include God supernaturally damming up the Jordan; God re-consecrating His people through circumcision and “rolling away their reproach from Egypt”; and God asking His people not to charge into battle on the city that lie ahead, but to march around it for a few days, blowing trumpets and singing, to which God responded by miraculously causing the walls of a fortified city to crumble without a sword to be lifted.

In the end, the “be strong and courageous” command had nothing to do with the physical strength of Joshua, but his ability to trust and follow through on the seemingly ridiculous set of requests, while the LORD made things happen.

Don’t get me wrong Joshua had his part in all of those moments. Step into a “flooded” river while thousands of people watch on, and trust that the flow will cease? Take a knife to the foreskin of all the males, and that will clear you of your past failures and prepare you for what lies ahead? You’re telling me the mighty warrior Joshua isn’t to lift a sword against the nation of giants, but to send out the worship team and stand guard around them instead?

In the end, courage only happens in the face of fear, whether it be real, life-threatening danger, or perceived danger that just makes you look foolish to outsiders.

But the charge I now take from this story is that no matter how ridiculous the thing God is asking me to do is, I know that being chosen looks radically different.

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    Chayil | Proverbs 31

    Chayil. (Khah’yil.)

    The first time I heard this beautiful Hebrew word in April of 2014, something about it resonated deep within me. As a baby conceived with Cystic Fibrosis – a life-threatening genetic illness that pegged my life expectancy at around 8 years old – I was, quite literally, born a fighter. However, CF was only the first of many fires awaiting me in this lifetime, and as a result, I spent the better part of ten years self-destructing in every way imaginable, determined that if I was going to die young, I was going to have a heck of a time doing it.

    So when I was introduced to the marrow of chayil while deep in the trenches of my rock bottom… And I learned the black and white of it to be “excellence” and “valor”… My shame and unbelief found it easy to shrug off.

    What I failed to understand then was that chayil isn’t something we muster up on our own. It knows no separation from, and is entirely dependent upon, our relationship with our Abba. And in time, we learn that to be a woman of chayil is to be a woman of innately-driven excellence. Strength. Beauty. And honor.

    It is quiet courage and confidence that knows it doesn’t have to roar to make a difference, or shove its way into the spotlight to be heralded.

    It is borne in the hard and holy and hidden places of our hearts. Places that are steeped in the value of being before doing, and that understand why Jesus promised that Mary held the better portion.

    It is fully recognizing that we hold both the sword and its victory in our hands, yet still kneeling before Him and asking Him how to wield it.

    It is a war cry, a desperate reminder of who and whose we are when the fight in front of us feels too big… Because most of the time, it is. And we should never be ashamed to admit we don’t have what it takes without Him.

    It’s bold. It’s counter-cultural. It’s often mistaken for weakness, and almost always viewed as insane.

    But that’s OK. So was our Jesus.

    The essence of chayil is most often depicted as a fierce warrior woman. If I’m honest, that’s what I had in mind myself when I sat down to render this image. But as it began to come more and more alive, I realized He was driving home the heart of where our excellence, courage, and strength truly come from: Our union with Him.

    Daughter of God, if this all seems intimidating to you, take heart, because you were made for this. The walk of a godly woman isn’t easy… It goes against every societal norm we’re taught, it draws mockers and critics, it costs us close friendships, and it consistently forces us to shed our comfort zones and step into the unknown, where tensions can be high but our Greatest Prize is higher. And by His grace, we come to realize we have nothing to fear. Because we’ve been bought with a price and adopted into His army to overcome lies with Truth, fear with faith, hatred with hospitality, and bitter with forgive. We weren’t made to give the world a piece of our minds, but a piece of His heart. And we were created to help heal, and leave this world that we’re in, but not of, in better shape than we found it.

    Expect difficulties. Expect attacks. Expect setbacks, to be sure.

    But more importantly, expect victory. Expect freedom. And expect to know the love and companionship of the God of the universe… Who is somehow also our personal Lord and Savior… Who is somehow also our Father who bends low to hear His children cry… So deeply that we shine His radiance from the inside out.

    It will feel impossible at times, but that’s why He made us warriors.

    That’s why He made us women of chayil.

    © Farrel DeBaltzo | January 3, 2023

    Love > Fear

    There are two diametrically opposed choices we’re faced with every day, multiple times a day, as human beings: Life and Death.

    They are driven by two diametrically opposed forces: Love and Fear.

    And of them are borne two diametrically opposed realities: Light and Darkness.

    They can not co-exist. We live from one or the other.

    The Greek word for “casts out” here is “ballō”, and it does not convey fear as a worthy adversary that love gently tells to bugger off. It is much more fierce, painting fear out to be worthless and a waste of time and energy. Other Scripture where this context is used is Matthew 5, when Jesus says salt that has lost its saltiness has no other fate than to tread underfoot and be thrown out; Matthew 13 when it describes fishermen sifting through their catch and throwing away the foul ones; and John 15 when Jesus invites His followers to abide in Him continuously, warning that those who refuse to will be like branches that wither and are thrown into the fire — Not as a threat, but a very real picture of what happens when we choose to cut ourselves off from Life Himself.

    Fear appears daunting to us, but it doesn’t have to be. And notice it doesn’t say “authority” casts out fear, but “perfect love”. When we fix our eyes on the beauty of all Jesus is, all He has done, and all the love that drove Him to do so, there is no other logical result than for fear to disintegrate before our very hearts and eyes. He always does the heavy lifting.

    There are certainly times in our human frailty when we will stumble. But at the end of the day, and the end of all days, the core of our beliefs and allegiance belongs to one or the other.

    May we all who bear His name today choose Love, choose Light, and choose LIFE ♥♥♥

    © Farrel DeBaltzo | April 4, 2024

    Home

    I grew up right outside of Lindale, Texas in blink-and-you-miss-it Garden Valley. When Dad had to leave, Mom and I relocated to a rent house her father owned in Tyler, where I spent years 10 through 20.

    At age 21, I hightailed it as fast as I could out of East Texas and to Dallas, then across the country to Washington State, then back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, then across the country in the other direction to Florida, before finally ending up back in Tyler in 2017 — A place I swore to my love, my friends, my family, and even my God I would never, ever, under any circumstances return to.

    I imagine that gave Him a pretty good chuckle, considering He knew what sovereign plan He had in store for me. In His perfect grace, He let me run for a long time — 13 years, to be exact — because only He knew exactly when I would be ready to tackle my past, piece by piece, and heal from it.

    And now… Just about the time I’d finally gotten used to being back in Tyler… Here Zack and I are, plunked back down in Lindale, in a home where our route in and out of civilization takes us directly through downtown. Past the old post office I reference in Love You More Than Life: A Memoir. The post office where I used to go with Dad every couple of days to check his business box. The post office that, if I had words for it, I could still describe exactly how it smelled inside. Past the brick corner store, now a guitar and gun shop, that once housed Rexall Drugs and filled my Cystic Fibrosis prescriptions as a baby. Past First Baptist Church, where I was dedicated as a newborn. Past all of the places and memories and emotions still sailor-knot-tied to a ranch and a home where another family lives and whose kiddos now play.

    There is no such thing as coincidence.

    Especially when it comes to redemption.

    Coming home — really, truly coming home in every sense of the word — is both comforting and uncomfortable. Familiar in the best and the worst ways. Messy. Confrontational. And, in the end, utterly freeing.

    Because nothing, nowhere, and No One knows you like home ♥

    © Farrel DeBaltzo | February 19, 2024