(Joshua Chapter 5)
Roller coasters used to be fun for me. As I get older, they toss my stomach around like a wet towel in a dryer. Unfortunately once the roller coaster stops it takes several moments before I feel like I'm not going to decorate the landscaping with my lunch.
That's exactly how I feel about life as I get older. When I choose to rely on my emotions and opinion to get through life, nausea can set in pretty quickly. But when I refuse to get on that roller coaster of emotions things turn out much better.
Does that mean I'll never have a feeling of doubt, worry, or anxiety? No.
Does it mean I can choose to hand it over as fast as it shows up? Yes.
I think that is where the Israelites were at as we start Joshua Chapter 5.
Remember the spies from a couple of chapters ago? Remember Rahab the prostitute? Remember God commanding Joshua to speak up and tell the priests and the people to march towards what looked like a dead-end? Remember the 12 men being called to go back in the the Jordan River after they had already crossed over?
All of those moments were potential emotional roller-coaster moments.
And we have plenty of them in our own life.
Kids head off to college.
A job feels like it's in jeopardy.
A family member is diagnosed with cancer.
A marriage is falling apart.
Our team is hurting and it isn't getting any better.
Whatever the emotional roller coaster looks like, you don't have to get on it.
The Israelites were beginning to realize something.
When you walk in faith, you don't have to ride in fear. (*10)
"When all the Amorite kings...and the Canaanite kings...heard how God had stopped the Jordan River before the People of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts sank; the courage drained out of them just thinking about the People of Israel." (Italics mine)
The kings were choosing the roller coaster. And they were coming to a stark realization that the Israelites had chosen the obedient walk of their God.
The results were speaking for themselves.
Walking can feel slower, but in faith, it's a multiplier.(*11)
When we least expect it, God can move in ways we can't comprehend. And while its natural to focus on the speed of our progress, we forget God operates in the supernatural ability to change the pace at any point. There is an amazing example of this coming in Joshua Chapter 6...where it seems like God literally orders up some Israelite busywork and a side of potential embarrassment to go with out.
So how do we respond?
Our diligence needs a direction.(*12)
We can work hard and get hardly anything done. How? By working so hard trying to prove we are right/can do this/have what it takes...that our diligence turns into ignorance. What do I mean by that? We end up convinced that we know better, and exhaust ourselves as we pour everything we have into trying to prove ourselves.
The alternative is choosing to trust the process of obedience, even when we don't feel like results are coming fast enough, or the way we thought they would.
Further in to Joshua Chapter 5 we are reminded that the generation of Israelites before the one we are reading about chose the roller coaster too. It ended up costing them 40 years of wandering, and not being able to walk into the land God had said was theirs.
Their children (the generation Joshua was leading) was seeing the wisdom found in obedience to God's vision for their lives. They were making decisions that would assure them they wouldn't repeat their parents mistakes.
Some time passes, and the Israelites are celebrating Passover near Jericho. Something interesting happens as soon as Passover ends. The people had been eating manna (bread) that God was literally sending from heaven...as in dropping it out of the sky...while they were on their journey. It was the sustenance for the obedience.
When we obey Him, He will sustain us. (*13)
"As soon as they started eating food grown in the land, there was no more manna for the People of Israel. That year they ate from the crops of Canaan."
They were eating the crops from the soil of their promised land.
When we reach where God has wanted to take us all along, we begin to realize the more we've been longing for was worth every ounce of trust we poured into our relationship with God to get there.
But just when you think arrival means kicking back, the Lord steps in and kicks it up a notch. See...we have a limited view of the end. Often times where we think the touchdown is, is really just a first down on a much longer drive.
Joshua looks up and see's a man with a sword drawn.
That'll wake ya up in hurry!
Joshua asks him a rather solid question.
"Whose side are you on - ours or our enemies?"
Pause. Can you imagine? You've just arrived at what you thought was your destination, and it appears the gig isn't over yet. Not only that, but you might be staring you demise right in the face.
Unexpected, and unprepared.
When we least expect it, we are stretched to the ends of our faith.
Has that ever happened to you before?
What you thought was the end...success to enjoy...turned into potential chaos?
Then this from the man with the sword...
"...I'm commander of God's army. I've just arrived."
Joshua knows in an instant this isn't about assessing a threat, it's about honoring his God. What happens next, particularly the order in which it happens is so important.
1. Joshua fell face first on the ground and worshipped God.
2. Joshua asked "What orders does my Master have for his servant?"
He didn't ask questions first.
He worshipped first.
Stop and think about that for a second.
He wasn't making requests, asking questions and trying to figure out what was about to happen. He was lost in love, reverence, and awe that God was coming to Him through this man. He was humbled. He was quiet. He shows us what contentment looks like.
I don't know about you...but when things get dicey...I often start with asking questions. I want to know what's up. I make requests. I have to know details. And in those moments I'm missing my greatest opportunity.
Being content in His presence.
"God's army commander ordered Joshua. 'Take your sandals off your feet. The place you are standing is holy."
"Joshua did it."
Sometimes I am in such a hurry wanting to know what's next, that I miss the point.
It's not about what's next, it's about WHO I am with. (*14)
As a dad I'm in a hurry, a lot.
I'd do better to simply take a step back and keep my distance so that I can see the value of their presence. Who is with me is always more valuable than what's next, where I'm off to, when it will come to pass, and every why answered on the way.
Our diligence needs a direction is the title of this chapter in Ocean Road.
Not just because it will help us navigate our journey. (that's part of it)
More importantly because it will help us honor WHO goes before us (God), and WHO we are going with (the people God has placed in our lives to honor).
Joshua was on it.
I think we're on it.
It's time to slow down and look around.
The direction our diligence needs is found face down on our knees.
We're on it.
The Israelites were on it.
Joshua Chapter 6 will tell us what we can learn from it.
Want a hint?
Perspective Point #11.
When a slow walk becomes a faith-driven multiplier epic shows up!
How's that for a teaser?
Here's your PERSPECTIVE POINTS for today.
10. When you walk in faith, you don't have to ride in fear.
11. Walking can feel slower, but in faith, it's a multiplier.
12. Our diligence needs a direction.
13. When we obey Him, He will sustain us.
14. It's not about what's next, it's about WHO I am with.
10. What emotional roller coaster do you need to stop riding? Do you have someone who is always begging you to go for the ride? Who can you start surrounding yourself with that will walk in faith with you instead?
11. What are you doing so that when the walk is slow, you are reminded to stay the course? What reminders (like the stones from the Jordan) can you use to keep you moving forward? Are you focusing on the answer coming (the WHAT) or THE answer you are with along the way (God)? Are you focusing on the pace of your progress, or the face of the only one who controls that (God's)?
12. Are you focused on trusting the process God has called you to, or your strength and ability to get it done on your own? Are you trying to prove you are right, or trusting Him to prove Himself strong? Are you doubting you have what it takes, or content that if He has called you to this, He will bring you through this?
13. Are you willing to walk in obedience and trust Him for your sustenance? And when HOW He has been sustaining you changes, how will you react? Will you trust Him when it seems success is being traded in for chaos? Will you fall to your knees in worship or stand and yell in defiance? Will you hold on to the manna so closely that you miss the crops He wants to give you in your promised land? AND...when you are facing a man with a sword moment, will you trust?
14. How are you showing those around you that matter most to you how much you appreciate them? How much you love them? That they matter more to you than any answer you are waiting on, project you are working on, or place in life you are trying to get to? How can you be more intentional about spending quality time with those closet to you. TLC. Tender Loving Care, right? Well...try this...Tangible Life Change. How can you create Tangible Life Change in the lives entrusted to you?
*The reflection questions feel more intense to me today. I think that's ok. Where we are going means we'll need to be able to ask ourselves the hard questions, if we want to experience the very best God has for us. Be encouraged as you process where you are at today. God loves you. He's crazy about you. That's pretty cool. And as you go...remember...when he sends you a man with a sword...it's a reminder that He's got your back. How cool is that. :)
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.