A life lesson from a fungus.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
My knowledge of mycology (the study of fungi) is limited, but I was excited to see this spotted cluster of lumps growing off the side of a fallen log. Fungi abound in sizes, shapes, and safety--ranging from the microscopic Crypto to the giant, cuddly looking puffball and everywhere in between. They make their home often in seemingly undesirable locations, attaching themselves to decaying and moist matter. And frequently they are in symbiotic relationships, closely existing on or alongside other organisms. Besides their seemingly dependent nature, the fungus (such as the one above) is unique in its boldness--a surface of shocking color and soft form against the earthy, broken bark behind it. It may stand alone, but it stands with strength.
For those who have chosen to identify with Jesus Christ, we must actively take off the old self and put on the new. This new identity cannot be "closeted," hidden from the world, although many of us are "set apart" by moral behavior. But following Christ isn't simply about acting with decorum! It's walking by faith and choosing to believe in a God who is in and around and through all things--a God who is active in the world at this very moment.
The book of Joshua begins with a summons. For forty years the Israelites have been in exile, waiting for the God of faithfulness to deliver them out of bondage and into the promised land. Yet, under the leadership of Moses, God's people turned from Him, choosing to worship other gods and doubt the one true God. After Moses's death, the LORD calls Joshua to lead these wanderers to prosperity and triumph over the evil nations in Canaan. What hope awaited! And yet God says to Joshua "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Josh 1:5) and then commands him to be strong and courageous. As a warrior and spiritual leader, Joshua was a brilliant and faithful servant. Even so, the Lord included courage.
Few of us are called to lead a large group of people out of exile, but we are still called to have the boldness to not only go where God leads but also faithfully identify ourselves with Him. The name of Jesus Christ should fall without hesitation from our lips, and the decisions we make should always be with the intention of glorifying only one Man. Whether in persecution or blessing, we are called to stand out--to not be of this world but still to remain in it. Celebrate your identity as a child of God, but make sure the world knows to Whom you belong.