Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Journey

My friend Lindsay asked me to be a guest author for The Journey. She's reading through the bible and writing devotions to go with each day's reading. If you'd like to make the journey with her, you can get there from here.


Joshua 7-11: Taking the Land

From Genesis to Joshua we see throughout Israel’s story that God does not tolerate unbelief and disobedience. God gives Israel clear instructions for how to take each city and directs them regarding how to handle the people and the plunder. Achan’s flesh gets the best of him, and he hides his disobedience by burying it.

What a perfectly human way to deal with our own guilt – hide it, stuff it down deep, hope nobody notices. Pretend it isn’t there and maybe it will magically disappear. We falsely believe that ignoring it and postponing it will bring relief. Israel could not have victory until the sin was dealt with, and neither can we.

But don’t you just love the sweet mercy of the Lord? Sin exposed and punished, God promptly returns to his agenda of provision and blessing for Israel, as if the sin episode were thrown into the sea of forgetfulness. That makes me yearn for true relief. Confessing to the Almighty isn’t quite so scary knowing He longs to be on good terms with me as much as I do with him.

In chapter nine Israel goofs up again. This is sin I can relate to. Over the years I’ve become fairly well-acquainted with God’s commands, but there are still times I stumble into what seem to be harmless circumstances that aren’t screaming for me to pray about. When we fail to bring everything to the Lord in prayer, asking for His wisdom and counsel on the matter, we often end up inadvertently compromising our devotion to the Lord. Even after He warned Israel not to enter into covenants with others, God, in his infinite grace, defends his covenant partner, even as they learn the hard way that friendship with the world is enmity toward God.

Ultimately, Joshua conquers all the land because, firstly, they did as God commanded and, secondly, because the Lord fought for Israel. He tells them repeatedly throughout the long, hard-fought battle, “Do not fear; be strong and courageous.”

God gave me this very promise to let the Lord fight for me when our family, like Israel, faced a long, hard-fought battle. My husband Mike lay in the hospital with kidney and liver failure and an irregular heartbeat caused by all the physical stress. Lymphoma had invaded God’s temple-territory from his esophagus to his groin, threatening every vital organ. Our battle was cancer, what’s yours?

As Mike hovered between life and death, God asked me, “Do you love me more than these?” I was afraid God might be preparing me for Mike’s death, but more afraid not to respond with belief and trust in my covenant partner to fight for me, as He promised He would. We looked at the crazy things God had Israel do to take the cities of the promised land as our model. We did crazy things like introduce poison into Mike’s body by way of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant, risking death, as Israel did to fight their battle. What crazy thing is God asking you to do in faith?

Ultimately, God wins the victory when we bring our sin before Him, obey his commands, fear not, are strong and courageous, put our lives on the line, and let God fight for us. Are you ready to take back God’s territory in your life? God awaits us with mercy and forgiveness in one hand and a conquering sword in the other so that we, too, can experience the land of His promise. Let’s not allow sin, fear, doubt or a long, hard-fought battle keep us from it.
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