Friday, July 31, 2015

To wholly follow the Lord

I have been studying Joshua this summer both devotionally and in preparation to teach the book this fall. Having taught a unit on Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, as well as an overview of the prophets, I love seeing the big story of the Bible play out in Joshua. As kings and lands are conquered, Abraham’s descendants are seeing the fulfillment of Genesis 12:7, the Lord’s promise of the land to his offspring.

Once the land is claimed, Joshua divides the inheritance among the twelve tribes. In Joshua 14, Caleb, one of the original spies sent to scout out the land some 45 years earlier, reminds Joshua of Moses’ promise to him and asks for a specific parcel:
You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. (Joshua 14:6-10)
And lest anyone think Caleb incapable or ignorant, he confidently asserts,
And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country…it may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said. (Joshua 14:10-12)
Caleb wholly followed the Lord his God and he knew the Lord would be faithful.

It is easy for me to read about Caleb and be impressed, inspired, and even a little intimidated. So brave and so bold, and, good grief, so very brave and so very bold at eighty-five years old!

I want to wholly follow the Lord but most days I don’t feel so very brave or so very bold. I don’t have the confidence or the strength to conquer giants. My life feels less like claiming the Promised Land and more like struggling in the same battles day in and day out, the same sins, the same sink of dirty dishes, the same basket of dirty laundry, the same five empty stomachs wanting supper, every single night.

Monotonous. Boring. Every day the same. Zero conquering here! But before I begin to despise my days of small things, I read Caleb’s request more carefully and see just how long he had to wait to claim Moses’ promise to him. Did you see? Forty-five years! Forty-five years of wandering in the wilderness with no library, no smartphone, no Twitter, no encouraging blogs like this one to read--can you imagine? Talk about monotonous!

Yet Caleb wholly followed the Lord. He persevered. He believed. He waited. Day in and day out for forty-five years. Surely he rehearsed the Lord’s promises as well as the Lord’s past faithfulness. He knew the Lord would provide and he knew his only hope was the presence of God with him. So he followed, wholly and wholeheartedly, and the promised inheritance was his by the grace and provision of the Lord his God.

This past week I’ve talked to friends and loved ones who each in their own way are struggling to persevere. One grieves a terrible loss, one worries over her job, another waits for time to heal and restore the hurt. Another friend told me through tears that she is weary, so weary, of baby steps, yet in her weariness she believes, she waits, she perseveres.

All are wholly following the Lord even in--yes, especially in--their weakness. One day Caleb’s testimony will be theirs and they will each say with him: I am strong but only because the Lord is with me and He is sufficient. They too will claim the promised inheritance that is theirs by the grace and provision of the Lord their God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

May it be so in me, oh Lord.

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