(Joshua Chapter 9)
This was the end of Chapter 8...
"Sometimes the journey will remind us that obedience trumps preference.
Just like it did for Achan, Joshua, and the Israelites.
Sometimes the journey is going to toss us back and forth in a storm.
Just like it did for my daughter and I.
No matter what the journey brings...
"Look sharp...and stay alert."
Your victory is coming."
And then came the next morning...
We were back to our usual pattern to start our day. Up early. Up before the sun was up. Off to the beach to meet it's arrival over the horizon. And in as much as we take those walks to see what we can find on the beach, they mean more because of the time spent...and who it's with.
On this day, as we came up over the dune, we did the same thing we always do. We kicked off our sandals so that we could walk the beach barefoot. As we started down the beach, Ella had a little head start on me. I trailed a few feet behind, as I heard it.
She began to stand up from her previously held catcher's stance position as she saw something by her feet. In her hand as she stood was something I'd never seen in person before on our walks. It was something that, I kid you not, I had prayed Ella would find on our trip. I know that might sound silly...but as a parent, it's what you do. You pray for things for your kids because you love them. You long to see the smile on their face, and their heart leaping for joy. And today was one of those days.
She turned to me, opened her hand, and held it out.
There it was.
A sand dollar.
A tiny little sand dollar.
I couldn't believe it. Not because I thought they didn't exist. It's just...in all the walks we've ever taken on a beach, we'd never seen one. And couple that with the silent prayers I had been praying that week on our walks for one to appear. Well...it was a special moment. And as we took off to walk the beach after she found it, waiting for the sun to rise, something struck me.
Like a quiet whisper on my heart, the Lord spoke to me...
You have to walk where most won't walk, to find what most won't find.(*25)
And as I process what that means now, it means even more.
Walking where most won't walk means different things. For us?
That morning was incredibly special. I still have no clue how she found that sand dollar. It was the size of an eraser on the tip of a pencil. That sand dollar, amongst all the broken shells, HUGE shells, stones, sand, driftwood, and occasional piece of trash on the beach...and she see's it.
Instead of taking a moment for face value, sometimes it requires us to dig a little deeper. And that is where Joshua and the Israelites found themselves in the beginning of Joshua, Chapter 9.
They were coming out of two huge victories.
Jericho and Ai.
Like Ella and I.
Huge shells and conch shells.
When we are most successful is a time we are most susceptible.
To missing the point that is right in front of us. What we think looks like one thing, is very different, because we didn't look close enough.
Ella could have walked right past that sand dollar. But based on the amazing experience of finding the conch shells the way we had the night before...I think her radar of possibility was heightened. But she knew that in order for it to work, she had to look differently. She had to pay attention where she might have walked past before.
There were several kings that lived on the west side of the Jordan river. And once they heard about how God moved on behalf of Joshua and the Israelites, they were scared.
"They came together in a coalition to fight against Joshua and Israel under a single command."
And just like the odds were stacked against us finding that sand dollar, these kings were about to do something to stack the odds against Joshua and the Israelites.
Here is how it went down. People from all over dressed up. They took on the look of weary travelers. They dressed the part. Clothes, donkey sacks, and sandals looking worn, torn and beaten up. Like they'd been on the road a long time. They broke off food so it looked like all they had was crumbs and leftovers.
They only lived a short distance from where the Israelites were, but they looked as if they'd come from far away. When they reached Joshua they laid down an academy award winning performance. They convinced the Israelites that they were impressed with how God acted on their behalf, and how they wanted to be part of the Israelites world.
They asked the Israelites to make a covenant with them. To be their servants. To get in on the good stuff, they'd do anything.
The reality was these people were terrified. They knew God had promised the Israelites this entire land. It didn't take a genius to figure out that meant they were next. Just like Jericho. Just like Ai. They'd be taken over...and in their time, that meant that they'd likely not be alive for long.
So as they presented their "evidence", the Israelites did something on their own that cost them a greater reward that God wanted to give them.
"The men of Israel looked them over and accepted the evidence. But they didn't ask God about it."
A covenant was made.
The Israelites acted on their gut, rather than checking with their God.
The distraction of what looked good on the surface, led the Israelites to miss the point of why they were there. Ella could have walked right past the sand dollar had she done the same thing.
But she stopped. She slowed down. She bent down. She looked closer. And somewhere between me praying she'd find one, and her quiet patience to wait?
The moment we'd both wanted happened.
The moment the Israelites wanted could have to.
And in both cases, there's another lesson for us.
Part of the reason Ella found that sand dollar is found in the many walks, over many years, that she and I have taken on beaches. It's found not in what she saw or didn't see. It's found in what she heard. Instruction. Teaching. Guiding. From me. From her dad. On how not to go so fast, that you miss out on what is right in front of you. How to look closer, even when you think there is nothing there.
And the Israelites would have done well to see the value in listening as well. To God.
Mentors see obstacles we can't see.(*26)
Ella trusted me over time, and was able to respond because of our conversations.
The Israelites had forgotten to consult their mentor, and reacted to their circumstances.
What happened to the Israelites that day is something we can all relate to. We look a moment we aren't sure of square in the face, and react rather than respond.
I think it sounds like this...
What do you have for me? (a response to a conversation with God)
What can I do with this? (a reaction to the circumstances around us)
Ask God what he has for us, don't accept evidence AS-IS.(*27)
As a result, the Israelites made a covenant that cost them God's promise to them. Once they realized their mistake (only 3 days later), they went off to confront them. It was too little, too late. The deal was struck. They couldn't do a thing to change it. So they settled for the only thing they could do about it.
The Israelites made these people "...wood-cutters and water carriers."
A lesson learned.
The hard way.
A moment that was meant to be one thing, became another.
A check-mate demotion turned out to be a life-saving promotion for their enemy.
Well played kings from everywhere else. You suckered the Israelites to walking right past their sand dollar moment. Your distraction techniques kept the Israelites from slowing down, and kneeling down. For if they had, they'd have asked God what He had for them, rather than taking a false presentation as factual proof.
Don't take a false presentation as factual proof. (*28)
I think there are more SAND-DOLLAR MOMENTS in our life than we realize.
But we don't see them, because we live in FEAR of what it will take to experience them.
Have you ever heard this before?
False Evidence Appearing Real.
I think there is one more very important point thing we need to do moving forward...
Stop accepting FEAR as proof, and walk in FAITH.(*29)
Don't mail in your promise, because you are pre-occupied with your problems.
When we walk where most won't walk (in obedience), we will find what most won't find (our answer). Why? Because we've trusted God. Because we've trusted mentors God has placed in our lives. When we start having conversations with God we'll be able to respond to what He has for us. The alternative? Accepting evidence around us AS-IS, and reacting to our circumstances instead. That's mis-placed trust and more forfeited promises. Don't take a false presentation as factual proof. Lean on God to help you discern the difference between walking in FEAR and standing in FAITH. Because, at the end of the day, that's where we find the promises fulfilled that God has made over our lives all along.
25. You have to walk where most won't walk, to find what most won't find.
26. Mentors see obstacles we can't see.
27. Ask God what he has for us, don't accept evidence AS-IS.
28. Don't take a false presentation as factual proof.
29. Stop accepting FEAR as proof, and walk in FAITH.
25. Where do you need to go in your life so that you can experience what God has for you? Is it an actual place? A physical trip you need to take? A move? Is it simply going to a point that you place your trust in Christ for the first time ever? Do you need to walk into a relationship with him, rather than continuing to walk in frustration based on how you've lived your life...on your own...apart from him?
26. As you look around you, who can you go to as a mentor? In addition to the time you'll spend with God moving forward...who can you put around you...to keep you on course? Will you make the commitment to finding someone, so this goes from being just a good idea...to an implemented life-change?
27. What area(s) of your life do you need to ask God what He has for you? What area(s) of your life are you currently accepting evidence AS-IS instead?
28. What false presentations are you giving weight in your life? That you aren't good enough? That you don't have what it takes? That your past is too big to overcome? That your future is to scary to move into? (None of it is true by the way. You are enough just as you are. You have what it takes. Your past can inform your future. All of this is true as you place your trust in Christ to show it to you, as He shows Himself strong in and through you)
29. What one thing can you do today to stop accepting those fears as truth? What one thing can you do to simply...walk in FAITH?
*As you leave today, my prayer is that this will encourage you...
Philippians 4:6-7(NIV Version)
"(6)Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.