Day 51--Intersections--""Courage"--Joshua 1:1 - 3:17
February 20, 2021, 7:45 AM

Day 51—Intersections—“Courage” Joshua 1:1 – 3:17

Overall, these first three chapters of Joshua re-set the foundations of God’s call to his chosen people—obedience to the covenant promises made on behalf of all the people first by Moses, who has now died, and now to be carried on by his successor, Joshua, who could really be called a ‘mini-Moses’. Joshua’s speech and actions reinforce this idea as we read these chapters. In fact, some scholars thought that the Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible which we have already read, should be extended to include Joshua, making it a Hexateuch. Some similarities between Moses’ story and Joshua’s:

  • Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt. Joshua leads them into Canaan.
  • Moses leads Israelites miraculously across Red Sea. Joshua leads them miraculously across the Jordan River.
  • Moses sends out spies into Canaan. Joshua sends out two spies to Jericho.
  • Moses allocates land on the east side of the Jordan. Joshua allocates land on the west side of the Jordan.
  • And finally, Moses gives a prolonged address before dying, as does Joshua. This farewell address at the end of the book brings the parallelism between the two leaders full circle.

(Note: This list was taken from a scholarly blog. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-book-of-joshua/ )

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But my focus today is going to be on the impact that this book had on MY life, strangely enough, and the intersections that led me to the place where I serve today.

 

We had moved to this diocese when my sons were young, in the late 1990’s, and I quickly became involved in my local church to the point that several people spoke to me about seeing a ‘calling’ to ordination. And I wanted none of it! Raised Catholic, I was terrified of anything that brought me too close to the holiness of the altar, especially as a woman. Raised Roman Catholic, women were not allowed to serve in the worship service at all.

But I knew I wanted more. More God? More spirituality? More knowledge? Yes to all those things. So I started to study as much as I was able. And always, always, always—I asked a lot of questions. Yep. I was ‘that’ person in the bible study, and I remain ‘that’ person in my life today. 😊

I wanted to know: What did God want me to DO for Him? I even had a bishop say a prayer over me to ask God to show me how to use all my gifts to serve God. I had been a teacher for several years at that point, and led non-profit organizations, but my heart was telling me there was more. I was given papers to fill out to begin the process for ordination, but I threw down a challenge before God: Prove to me that you are calling me. Prove to me that this what you want me to do. (I don’t advocate this tone in general!)

What I wanted to see was a clear and sort of weed-whacked pathway through the tangled jungle of my life. I wanted God to show me the plan and the map before I would commit to His plans. I wanted proof.

And then, the book of Joshua. We were studying a program called “That the World May Know” led by a teacher named Ray Vander Laan and the lecturer always taught in the Holy Land at the places where events occurred. On this day, Ray stood at the banks of the Jordan River, which was flowing kind of slowly, but he went through the verses we read today in Joshua 3: “Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of the harvest.” (3:15). The lecturer explained that it was a wild and untamed river at that point, frightening for everyone who saw it, impossible to cross. And here was the greatest treasure, the Ark of the Covenant, being carried down to its banks, the Levite carriers instructed to cross over against all logical reasoning.  But God said this: “When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the LORD of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.” (3:13)

And something became clear to me that day which I had never understood before. Hearing this story changed my entire perspective on my own life, and the life of God’s people. We are never going to have that lovely, weed-whacked pathway. The journey is going to be unpredictable. But we are called to have faith, to act in confidence and not in fear, despite the circumstances.

I could not get the picture out of my mine. I kept seeing those priests carrying this elaborate and beautiful sign of God’s favor and promise, the Ark of the Covenant, and I ‘saw’ that the priests did not hesitate, and that fear did not prevent them from putting their feet into the cold, wild, rushing waters of the River Jordan. Unless they got their feet wet, they would never know if God would keep his promises to them or not. Until they trusted, had faith and acted with confidence, they would not know if the river was really and truly going to dry up in order to let them pass through.

I went home that day and filled out my application for ordination, and you know the rest of the story.

I still cannot see my future, but I know that God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit--is the only guide I can fully trust. My call (and I believe it is the same call for each of us) is to have faith when I cannot see ahead, when it doesn’t make sense, when it is hard and challenging, when I am scared and want to give up. My call is to put my feet in the water even when everything around me suggests that it makes no sense, that I might drown, that the water is too powerful.

I’m telling this story not to appear ‘holy’ or ‘connected’ to God, but to illustrate how powerful these scriptures can be in our lives. Because I was actively in relationship with God, wrestling with God, reading God’s word, I was able to see the intersection between these historic narratives and my own little, far less significant life. God showed me the connection between my own life and the story of the Israelites finally arriving in the Promised Land. God inspired me to respond. And ultimately I believe God called me, sort of demanded, that I make the same kind of commitment.

I have never, ever regretted putting my feet in the water.

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

 



Comments

02-20-2021 at 11:36 PM
Billy E
I really appreciate that you shared your story interwoven with story of Joshua’s first day on the job. We all have our own individual callings and how reaches out to us. We just have to be listening so that we can hear his message.
02-20-2021 at 10:36 AM
Pat Buell
You are such an inspiration. Many blessings to you.
02-20-2021 at 9:11 AM
Sandy mee
Congratulations ,what a wonderful story,we are so lucky to have you.Bless you
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