A Look At Joshua |Part 1
This year has been a wild one to say the least. From civil unrest to toilet paper shortages to political dissent… there’s been a lot going on in 2020 – and I’m positive you can add to the list! Swift changes in response to the Covid-19 threat has led to many feeling stuck – both physically and emotionally. In fact, you might not have left the house as you limit travel and have far less engagement with people. Depression or anxiety has risen with the lack of face to face interaction and the comfort of community.
There’s still the spiritual component of our lives that 2020 has shaken and altered. We had to reevaluate how we worship and do church on Sunday mornings. Many had felt the ‘stripping’ of what was a new opportunity that God has for us. It helped us return to the basics of faith, expose our cultural idols, and better realize that the church is not just a building but the people of God.
At the same time, the lack of physically going to church has led many to grow cold. The ‘convenience’ of church is missing and, as a result of some, the desire to seek the Lord. Perhaps this was an eye-opener that being a ‘Sunday Christian’ isn’t enough. Coming to God is an everyday act! Or these trying times could have caused several to stumble, be discouraged, or give up in their pursuit of God. One might think that this year could have little to offer in terms of growth and maturity in spiritual matters.
What if, at the end of this year, you could look back with joy and wonder, marveling at what God did in you? What if the trials and the difficulties this year brought matured you and made you a better person? This outlook can be a reality for us. Growth happens at a greater rate when outside of our comfort zone, and boy… this year presented uncomfortable challenges!
While it’s easier to look at what we don’t have, let’s go more in-depth in what the Lord has given us. It’s tempting to gloss past the year with the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ mentality, ignoring this year and desiring what we deem as ‘normal.’ I encourage you to ask yourself instead, “How have I grown this year?” “What has the Holy Spirit revealed to me?” The key is realizing that God has been preparing you to ‘grow in place’ so you can be ready to go out ‘out of your place’, whenever and wherever that may be.
For the next few weeks, I want to look at a character in the Bible who was confined by his circumstances to ‘grow in place’. He chose what was right to be ready to accomplish what God ultimately had for him – the taking of the promised land. His name is Joshua.
Joshua is not typically who we think of in the Bible as one restricted by his environment. When we think of Joshua, we automatically envision what’s in the book that bears his name – successfully leading the Israelite army to victorious battles, such as the walls of Jericho falling down. It’s easy to forget that before the accomplishments and the visible success, there was a time of preparation before.
Joshua is first mentioned in Exodus while the Israelites had just fled the Egyptian army with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. Now they have a new enemy in their midst, the Amalekites. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” (Exodus 17:9).
As long as Moses held up his staff (with the help of Aaron and Hur), the Israelites were winning. Eventually, Joshua gained the victory as he overcame the Amalekites with the sword. Here’s the fascinating part as the Lord tells Moses what to do after the battle, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” (v. 14).
Did you notice that tidbit of information that “Joshua needs to hear of it?”
Although Joshua does not know it yet, he will be the one to lead the Israelites to victory in the promise land. The Lord has a specific place for him, even if, right now, as a young man, he cannot see it yet. Instead, this is but a glimpse of a promise to be fulfilled.
Is that not how the Lord works in each of our lives? The Lord has a specific plan and purpose for each of us, uniquely crafted for every believer in Christ. As a result, promises are given to each person to see the Lord’s purposes be fulfilled. These promises cannot be attained through natural means but by an interdependency with the Holy Spirit. Hence God’s promise to Abraham – to have a nation come from his bloodline – was fashioned outside of his strength by having a son in his old age. David’s ascent to the throne was not based on outward appearance or human expectations of ‘what a king should be’ but what the Lord saw in his heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God gives promises to manifest His goodness and proclaim His greatness with the realization that humanity itself cannot make it happen. Only God can. And when He does, He gets all the praise, the glory, and honor. Amen!
We understand that promises are given and promises are actualized, but what is in the space between them? What goes on in the middle before the promise comes to pass?
Most people do not like to hear it, but process is necessary for the promise to come. What most people – including myself – fail to realize is that the Lord cares about the person as well as the promise. We are to be continually transformed from glory to glory, looking more like Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). While we wait for the promise, we partner with the Holy Spirit for our Christlike development. We actively pursue God’s presence in times of emptiness and confusion, especially if we do not see the promise just yet – so He can fill that gap with His love and security.
Joshua was in a place where under Moses, he fought a battle and won. However, he would not fight another physical battle for many more years to come. Instead, his process was in place to prepare what God ultimately had for him – to be the leader after Moses; It was to bring the Israelites to the promise land.
I realized how impatient I truly am when I do not see the promises come to pass in my timeline. 2020 has been the year of ‘the pause button’ – the promises I am waiting for seem to be ‘on hold.’ Yet I am reminded of James 1:2-4 – to be joyful in my trials of waiting so I can be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Since I am experiencing lack, including a lack of joy, I am definitely not there yet! But I’m in process by ‘growing in place’; God is refining me to be ready to handle the promise when it does come.
While process involves Christlike character development, process also involves other facets such as honing skills, operating in spiritual gifts and forging spiritual disciplines. Joshua could not be the chief military leader in the promise land if he did not know how to engage in warfare. I would be a lousy pastor if I did not know the Word. We partner in the process to be prepared for the promise.
Otherwise, if we do not accept the process God wants to do within us, we experience problems with the promise. We can push back against the process, which prolongs the process.
Joshua’s mentor Moses already experienced this by taking matters into his own hands. Moses saw an Israelite being mistreated by an Egyptian and killed him. As Acts 7:25 states, spoken by Stephen under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.” Instead, Moses fled for his life and spent 40 years in the desert, taking care of sheep before leading the people out of Egypt. Moses prolonged the process.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to wait 40 years for a promise to be fulfilled if I don’t have to! While God redeemed Moses’ call in this instance, we see another repercussion of not partnering with the process.
If we push back against the process, we could pass up the promise. As we will see in a few weeks, the Israelites’ lack of faith to go into the promise land ultimately led to their untimely death in the wilderness. Only those under twenty years old, the children of the Israelites who grumbled against the Lord, were allowed to go into the promise land. (Numbers 14:29) That promise was for the people to go in, but that generation was ‘passed up’.
Passing up the promise is far worse than prolonging the promise, for we do not get to see that promise fulfilled in our lifetime. I cannot imagine how grievous it would be for me to find out that I intentionally ‘missed’ what God had for me! I strongly suspect that it grieves God’s heart as well.
Therefore, even if the ‘grass looks greener on the other side,’ where others seem to be in their place of promise, don’t give up! God has you here for a reason. He has provided a place for you to grow right where you are, even in the recent restrictions of Covid-19. Even if there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight or if life seems stagnant – God is moving! He has positioned you purposefully for the preparation of those promises. As noted, the best way to grow in place is to embrace the process.
As you look back at the promises, plans, and promptings the Lord has given you that have not come to fruition yet, ask yourself some of these questions to understand your place in the process.
- How are you partnering with the Holy Spirit in your current process?
- What area of your life does the Lord want to work within you?
- Have you been resisting the process, especially within this year?
There’s much the Lord wants to do in you even if you cannot see it yet. Have hope, partner with the Holy Spirit, and trust the process.
Have a blessed week!
 Except for Joshua and Caleb as we will go in more detail in the next two weeks