3 freaking years of seminary and I never knew that God parted the Jordan for Joshua the way he parted the Red Sea for Moses. There’s lots to be said for parallelism and repetition being important when God really wants to get the message across. Clearly, when it’s important, it comes out again and again.
Which is why I find it fascinating that God tells Joshua not just once, but 3 times within one short commissioning, “be strong and courageous.” It’s there twice within the same breath. Be strong and courageous. I would think that Joshua would’ve got the hint there. But who knows… most of the time I don’t, even with multiple chances.
I started reading the book of Joshua a few weeks ago (and I’ll be honest, by “started” I mean read some, contemplated, and haven’t picked it up since) because I had a sense that it was fitting for the time and place that our family seems to be living. We’re in a lot of limbo as we wait for schools to post their openings and JJ to apply and interview. Then we’ll have an idea if we have to move or not (and all that goes with it). As well, we’ve got the new kid on the block and I’m on maternity leave, so there’s quite the interruption from our normal rhythms.
As JJ prepares to put on the gown and hood in just one week, I feel like we’re also finally ready to enter into our “promised land.” We knew the day would come when he would be working and we could sort out some of the other goals for our family. So I wanted to see what Joshua went through as promises became realities. These folks had 40 years, not just 2.5, to think about what life would be like “after.”
The fact that God told Joshua “be strong and courageous” over and over was almost a shock to me. For some reason I had the impression that because it was promised, it would simply be a matter of taking hold. God promised it, so what’s there to fear, right? But such is not the case. God had to have known that Joshua would be tempted to run scared or He wouldn’t have given such warning. After warning. After warning.
After 40 years of promises, they’re standing at the edge of taking it for themselves, and God says, “don’t get scared now!” And why would they be scared unless what they were ready to do was… well… scary?
I’m having difficulty really putting this in a nice, neat package, but what I’ve come to realize is that just because God promised it, just because you’re about ready to lay hold of something that is good, true and God-willed, this doesn’t mean that you might not be tempted to turn back, back off or renege all together. Your knees might be knocking as you’re “standing on the promises of God.”
Right before I got married I had a case of the jitters… just general anxiousness and whatnot. Now, I completely trusted that my husband would be a good man to marry (and I underestimated how much so!) and I knew that our marriage was in God’s will. So I felt guilty for the butterflies. I thought, if I really believe this is right and good, why the nerves? My sister told me, “This is a major life decision; if you weren’t just a little nervous, I’d be worried.” And it’s true. Such things can’t be taken lightly.
I feel like that was the essence behind God’s prompting to Joshua. As if he was saying, “this is a big deal, and you’re going to be scared. But remember, I’m with you, so don’t turn back. Face it knowing that I’m with you.”
All that to say that in this time of peering over the edge to a promised land, it’s okay that I have a few butterflies. But I know a God that goes before us so we can face each next step with a bit of courage.