When Gary Williams retired as head coach of the University of Maryland basketball program, he left behind a tremendous legacy. Most notable was the 2002 national championship he had won, but he also ended with a career total of 668 wins—461 of them in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of college basketball’s premier leagues. He won 3 ACC titles and took the Terrapins to the Sweet Sixteen on seven different occasions. That storied career, in the eyes of many sportswriters, is the stuff that a place in the hall of fame is made of. But, it also raises the bar pretty high for the next person to sit on the Maryland bench as the head coach. Who’s next? Mark Turgeon, formerly of Texas A&M—and he will have a lot to live up to.
Joshua faced an even greater challenge when he faced the burden of stepping into the role vacated by Moses as leader of the nation of Israel. How could he ever live up to the standard that his predecessor had set? By following the counsel that the God of Israel Himself had given:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)
God’s words to Joshua directed him in two distinct ways. First, Joshua needed to learn to depend upon the Word of the Lord (“the book of the Law,” v.8). Second, Joshua was to recognize that the Lord was faithful to be with Him in all that He did. How could Joshua be strong and of good courage (v.9)? Not in himself. It would only be in the truth and the faithfulness of his God that He would ever be able to carry on the task vacated by Moses. When we face extraordinary challenges, we too find the courage and strength we need in God’s Word and God’s presence.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain