(Joshua Chapter 11)
There are going to be moments in life when it seems like a break in the action has finally arrived...only to find out that more stuff is hitting the fan. That's about as honest as I can lay it out there. You sense an answer to prayer arriving, and on it's heels comes a twist you didn't see coming. Your joy collides with frustration. The long awaited breath of relief you are taking feels like someone put a shop vac on your lips and is taking it back with an even greater force.
That is where Joshua was standing in the beginning of chapter 11. Massive numbers of kings heard what was happening, and they pooled their resources. As in, "They came out in full force, all their troops massed together - a huge army, in number like sand on an ocean beach - to say nothing of all the horses and chariots...ready to fight against Israel."
Hence the aforementioned shop-vac reference.
At some point when enough stuff comes against you, it's like you are anticipating that if any good does come, it will be short-lived. That makes walking in faith pretty hard. I know...that's not the churchy pat answer you were thinking I'd say. It is, however, real. And so is life. But instead of tossing in the towel, Joshua stood in faith once again.
God's response to these new developments?
"Don't worry about them. This time tomorrow I'll hand them over to Israel."
And he did.
But not because Joshua had the chutzpa to take them on his own. In fact, it had everything to do with God acting on his behalf...again.
One of my favorite parts of this story is a verse in the middle of chapter 11.
"Just as God commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it. He didn't leave incomplete one thing that God had commanded Moses."
Not one thing incomplete.
Honestly...that's a tough pill to swallow.
Not. One. Thing.
Have you ever been at a point where you were frustrated, and wondered what you could have done different? Sometimes I think we keep looking for this massive shift that would have made the outcome different. And I think we are looking in the wrong places. We'd be well served to look at the smallest details we didn't think mattered.
If the details don't matter, neither does the outcome. (*31)
We see the big picture, but forget to walk out each step on the way. And we end up in a place where the big answer we are looking for was found in the small things we overlooked along the way.
The returned phone call.
The scheduling of an appointment.
The making time to be emotionally present with our kids.
The trusting God with our finances more, even when it makes less sense.
The honor we show someone we'd rather show the door.
That list could go on for a very long time. Frankly...it just scratches the surface. The few minutes we take to invest in someone will always be more important than what we could gain from keeping them for ourselves.
And before we go feeling sorry for ourselves, we'd do well to realize this too...
Cancel the Pity Party...it's not just about us. (*32)
It tells us that Joshua actually had to fight against the Kings that were after him for a long time. Remember, God said their enemies were toast. He'd wipe em' out. But he didn't say how long the whole thing would take.
And then this...
"It was God's idea that they would stubbornly fight the Israelites..."
Sometimes the answer we are looking for isn't about us. There is more at play. There are other people affected. And just because it doesn't make sense to us, doesn't mean God doesn't have a reason for the moment playing out the way it is.
It makes me think of a couple of verses in Isaiah 55 (verses 8 and 9)...
"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work. God's Decree. For as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think."
Are we content in the fact that sometimes...it's not about us?
It's not an easy question, but a necessary one.
And before you decide to bail on me because of the enormity of the ask I am making to you...to myself...to all of us, watch what happens next.
"Joshua took the whole region. He did everything that God had told Moses. Then he parceled it out as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribes. AND ISRAEL HAD REST FROM WAR." (Caps, Bold & Italics mine)
Rest comes after the resistance, if we are diligent in our obedience. (*33)
We talked at the beginning about how it's hard to catch your breath when you feel like the emotional shop-vac moment is just around the corner.
My encouragement for you, me...all of us, today?
We can't live life in fear of what could take the wind out of us, and miss the contentment that comes when we invite the presence of Jesus all around us.
Israel did experience rest in their heart.
And so will we.
After they did, and we will, do everything God commands us to.
If you sense God laying it on your heart, walk it out in your life. You don't need to be perfect, just present. You don't have to wait to start until you have the right words, you just need to be willing to start the conversation. You don't have to feel qualified, you just need to respond.
Letting Jesus fill in the gaps where we can't see how it matters.
That is the space we need to live in.
But the only way to set up camp there, is to walk in that direction.
The last thing that happens is a pretty cool reminder of the blessings that arrive through this life of obedience we are talking about.
Our surplus is someone else's sustenance. (*34)
The hot topic of taking care of others leads the news in lots of ways today. The answer we are looking for is closer than we think, and requires a whole lot less paper work and policy. When we'll walk where God is asking us to go, there will be more than enough to go around when it's needed most.
(31) If the details don't matter, neither does the outcome.
(32) Cancel the pity party...it's not just about us.
(33) Rest comes after the resistance, if we are diligent in our obedience.
(34) Our surplus is someone else's sustenance.
(31) What have you walked past in your hurry to get to the answer that likely matters more than you've given it credit for? What details have been overlooked that are the key to building a foundation the answer you are looking for can support?
(32) When is the last time you stopped...and considered the fact that what you are going through...maybe, just maybe has more of an impact on others than you realize?
(33) Are you more in love with the idea of rest than the implementation of walking out what you need to be? Are you willing to let Jesus fill in the gaps on the way, rather than have an emotionally bullet-proof plan (those don't exist btw...) in place before you start?
(34) Where is there an area of surplus in your life that should be the sustenance for someone else's? In your finances? In your time? In your encouragement? Some? All? More areas I haven't even mentioned?
It's your move...what are you waiting for?
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.