Be Strong and Courageous (even around squirrels)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I consider myself to be a pretty strong and courageous woman. I like to think of myself as tough and firmly grounded. I usually don’t turn down a dare either, even if it involves eating live bugs or embarrassing myself in front of crowds of people. But I also have an irrational fear of……..squirrels.

Yep, that’s right. Squirrels. I know it sounds stupid, but their beady little rodent eyes and bushy tails give me the creeps SO bad! I literally jumped onto my husband’s back once when one came too close to us.

This fear all stems from a bike ride I took when I was about eight-years old: a squirrel got too close to my bike and took a ride through my spokes (not before, however, brushing his nasty, little tail on my bare leg). Gross!

Over the years my family and friends have loved to tease me about this fear. My family finds ugly squirrel figurines and wraps them up for Christmas. When I was teaching, my students even brought me squirrel gifts too.

Although this was all done in fun, it actually helped me face my fear and desensitize me to it. By telling people and joking about how I hated squirrels, this helped me address my fear and made me feel braver.

Satan loves to lie to us about who we are, doesn’t he? Jesus says in John 8:44, “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Sometimes Satan’s lies aren’t as trivial as, “Squirrels are scary and vicious.” Sometimes Satan whispers to us: Why would anyone want to hear your story? How could you possibly help in that ministry? You don’t have time for volunteering or attending a group. You don’t have any value to the kingdom of God. You’re just too basic.

In Exodus 3, the Lord appears to Moses in a burning bush and calls him to help lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God gives him authority in his name — “I AM the Lord”, he says — but Moses still doubts that the people will even follow him. Then God gives him three signs that he can show the Israelites so that they’ll believe him, but Moses still has excuses. He says he isn’t a good speaker and questions how God could actually use him.

But what if Moses hadn’t obeyed? What if he had stayed afraid instead of being courageous? What if he had continued to listen to Satan’s lies instead of listening to who GOD said he was? Because God promised him (and us) this:

“And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites – a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:17)

God’s plan for Moses was scary, but the end result was amazing! Moses had to step out and be brave though, even when he was afraid.

So let me ask you this today: what is God calling you to step out and do? What lies are you believing that might be holding you back? I want to use the Substance Funnel to illustrate this further:

When I started attending Substance five years ago, I joined the KIDS ministry because they were giving away free t-shirts! (No joke.) But after doing that, I got up the nerve to attend Substance Moms, and then later, a connect group. In the past year, I’ve found my SPACE with seven other amazing women, and I legit feel like I’m “in the land flowing with milk and honey” because of these friendships.

So I encourage you to be brave and take that next step today too!

Don’t be afraid to jump into a ministry and see how God uses you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and build authentic community with other believers and find your “4-7”. And don’t let Satan hold you back with his lies; because friend, you are deeply loved by God, called to be courageous, and designed for His community and purposes (even if you are afraid of squirrels).

Kari Brookins is a stay-at-home mother of three from Mounds View. When she isn’t mommin’ so hard, you can find her in the gym, hanging out with friends, or reading books for fun. She loves coffee, beach vacations, football, and Asian food. Kari and her husband have been married for 11 years and have been attending Substance for five years.