“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)

There’s this episode of the old Andy Griffith Show—you know, with Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, Floyd the barber—I really like that show. I like Mayberry and the Sunday afternoon front porch where they sit around not saying anything except “I think I’ll take a nap.” I like the show best when it was still in black and white. Mayberry was meant to be a black and white town, everything laid out neat and clean and everything. When it went color it lost its comfortable black and whiteness, which is why I don’t watch the color episodes, only the black and white ones.  Besides, when they lost Barney and Gomer the whole show sort of went to pot.

Anyway, there’s this episode where a bully keeps taking Opie’s milk money, threatening Opie with a knuckle sandwich. Opie is ashamed and tries to keep it secret, but Andy finds out. So Andy takes Opie fishing to their special spot. He doesn’t let on that he knows Opie’s problem, but tells his kid a story about how, when he was little, a bully tried to take over his special fishing spot. Andy confesses how afraid he was but then decided to confront the bully who proceeded to punch him. To Opie’s amazement, Andy tells him that he laughed—laughed!—then lit into the bully like a tornado and won his special fishing spot back for good. So Opie screws up his courage to confront his own bully. When he returns to the sheriff’s office he proudly sports a black eye and crows “I laughed!” Like his dad did, Opie lit into the bully and got all his milk money back.

Andy’s big lesson to his son was that the bully’s punch wasn’t half as bad as the fear of the bully. The knuckle sandwich was the only item on the bully’s menu. Once he’d served it, he had to close shop.

The Cowardly Lion learned the same thing. He was a self-proclaimed sissy but he found that facing the wicked witch was a short-term engagement with long-lasting benefits. By the time he made it back to the Wizard, he’d already proven himself valorous, in spite of himself.

Joshua was no milktoast, but he wasn’t an idiot either. He knew the dudes in Canaan were mean suckers and could dish out some major knuckle sandwiches. But God tells him to get in there anyway. Sure, God was going along for the ride, but Joshua was going to have to walk into the bully’s territory on his own two feet. It wasn’t easy, for sure. But Joshua earned his stripes and got kudos from God for taking the heat.

Look, there are enough wimps living in Christendom. Get yourself a shiner. It’ll probably improve your looks and may even be good for a laugh.


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