Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Don't Count Yourself Out

Joshua the book contains plenty of stories, full of coloful people, retelling the tales of young Israel coming into the Promised Land. Chapter one begins with Joshua's speech: you can tell alot about him by the strength of character he exudes, and the response he elicts from the crowds. Inspiring stuff. Over and over again he invites them, even commands them to be strong and courageous.

Everybody needs a Joshua in your life to call out the best in you to live out what God is working out through you. We get tired, distracted, lonely, fearful - life can have a way of bring out the worst in us. And if we get down on ourselves for too long, we begin to forget all that is good about us and God, and remember only that stuff that has gone wrong.

The ancient peoples of Israel are no different then me when it comes to being afraid, timid, rebellious, and weak. But like them, I also am up for a challenge, and am inspired by God's vision for this world and my place in it. And Joshua is putting into them the strength and courage they need, strength and courage that gets poured into him through God's Spirit.

And just so you don't miss the bigger point being made with this story: Joshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus (which is a Greek name). Just as Joshua invited, commanded his people to be strong and courageous, so Jesus - Yeshua invites, commands you to be strong and courageous - for God's delight, for your fellowman's freedom, and your own joy.

(a monastary carved out of the desert cliffs overlooking the ancient city of Jericho)

I find it interesting that the first major story of Joshua, found in the second chapter, has to do with strong and courageous Israelite spies coming into the house of a prostitute. These men come to Jericho into Rahab's life, and by the end of the story her life has become intertwined with the merciful, just, delightful way of God which results in freedom for her family and joy for her soul. Prostitutes normally get a bad rap in Christian societies. They are usually perceived as the scum of the city. And God scandalously brings his freedom to her - even as he is bringing judgment to her city of Jericho. When God showed up, she responded to his work with fear - and then wonder and hope and expectation. And when God's people showed up, she was ready to be strong and courageous herself, and go along with God's work.

When you know that God is calling you to be strong and courageous, to do something that stretches you or discomforts you, but you know it is the righteous thing to do: do it - people like Rahab are depending on you. You always have an opportunity to bring delight, freedom and mercy to people that God has been working on for a long time. And even if you think that your life has been too much like Rahab, and not enough like Joshua - don't count yourself out. If you sense God's invitation, even command to do the right thing...count yourself in. Remember that to walk the way of Jesus/Joshua is to walk the way of faith/trust.

No comments: