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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More than be strong and take courage

If you have ever "inherited" a monumental task because someone left the company, was promoted, or you just were "tagged" as "it", you know the overwhelming sense of terror which grips you, if even for a moment, as you consider the magnitude of what you are going to have to do.  For just a moment, you are overcome by the responsibility and you might even falter a little in your acceptance of the task at hand.  This is probably a reaction quite common to man - one which is based in fear as much as it is in pride.  We might fear failure because it will impact our "impression" in the eyes of others.  We could think no task is beyond our means of completion, but silently be worrying we might not have the wherewithal to pull this one off.  What usually happens in these moments is someone bolsters our "faith" a little by reassuring us that we "can do it".  This might do more than bolster our faith - it could even make our head swell a little in this thing we call pride.  Either way, we often have the same result - inside we are a mess, but on the outside, we display this calm, cool confidence that says "you picked the right guy for this one" to all those who are looking on.  Truth be told, we'd do better to let a little of the mess ooze out so others could actually see us as "human" and dealing with the same issues they deal with than to exude all this self-confidence!

Long ago I promised the ancestors of Israel that I would give this land to their descendants. So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land. I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:6-9 CEV)

Joshua probably had a little more than "subtle misgivings" about assuming the role of leader of Israel after the death of Moses.  Moses had been both a great leader and someone who had actually seen the face of God and lived!  He received the Law from God directly and spent a great deal of time getting to know him personally.  In this respect alone, Joshua could have felt a little "insecure" in taking the role.  To make matters even worse, Joshua had seen the resistance of the people to actually "follow the rules" God established and to frequently drift into "complaint" and "stubborn self-focus" on occasion!  Now, that wouldn't make me want to step right up to the position!  In fact, I might actually turn someone down if it was offered to me! 

In those moments of what were probably a little more than "mild fear" and "trepidation" over assuming the leadership role for Israel, Joshua is likely wrestling with the idea that he "can" do this job, but also with the concerns of "do I really want to do it".  This is only natural and God knows this inner anguish exists in each of us.  It should come as no surprise that God comes to Joshua with reassuring words and direction for "how" to accomplish the task ahead.  See what God says:

1. I made a promise a long time ago.  We can count on God's promises - not one has been uttered which did not come to pass.  Just go with it!  It is something to be relied upon.

2. Based on this promise, be strong and brave.  God isn't point Joshua to his natural talents of leadership - charisma, business sense, the power to persuade the masses, etc.  He is pointing him back to himself - because all successful leadership is based upon the relationship we maintain with God, not the talents we naturally fall into. 

3. Pay attention to God's teachings.  It is only natural for us to want to take our own ideas and infuse them into the situation at hand.  After all, isn't that why someone appointed us to the position of leader?  They saw some raw talent and creativity in us that caused us to rise to the top - right?  Not!  God's way is to follow his plan - using the talents he gives us, not putting our own "spin" on it, but taking those talents to use as we obediently align them with God's Word.

4. Don't pick and choose what you will follow - follow God's plan in it's entirety!  I have often taught we cannot be "pickers and choosers" when it comes to what part of scripture we will obey and what other part we might dismiss as "irrelevant" to today's circumstances.  God's Word is long-standing, entirely true and relevant.  Period!

5. You aren't doing this alone.  I think this is the crux of where our pride is broken down. When we finally realize ALL our success - even our appointment to take on the task at hand - is simply because God is IN us and is going BEFORE us - we come face-to-face with the fact our own efforts shall not be enough for the journey ahead.  God's plan demands his hand!

We often take this passage and quote it at ceremonies "commissioning" someone for the mission field, or some new role in ministry.  I suppose it is a good one to quote, but we'd do well to teach it, model it, and pass it on through our modeling.  God's commission comes with several reminders of us not being commissioned to go it alone.  God made the promise, he stands behind it, we stand on it and pay attention to all he has said, making his plan our plan.  This is how we fulfill the commission!  Just sayin.