For Father's Day this past year, I bought my husband an apple tree. This was one of those win gifts because I actually listened to his stories of childhood apple trees and homemade apple sauce. This was a bummer gift because the poor tree has been sitting in the pot it came home in since June. It needs a permanent home.
The book of Joshua opens as the Israelites are mourning the loss of their leader Moses and they are poised on the edge of the promised land. They've been homeless for over forty years. The book's namesake is appointed their new leader. And lead he does. One of the most encouraging verses in the Bible is in this first speech Joshua gives his people.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
I love this reminder that the promises of God are not for peace or prosperity or for security or wealth. The best promise is that God comes near, goes along, never leaves.
My spouse pointed out yesterday that this weekend was our final opportunity to get the tree into dirt before school starts in ten days. Say it isn't so! I'm not ready for school. I can't handle the mom homework yet. Nonetheless we headed out to the local big box home improvement store and pondered our options. We both vetoed the gorgeous DIY pavers. The resident chef voted nay due to cost. I voted no due to incompetence. Last time I tried to DIY anything I purchased the wrong size wood to repair my garden boxes. They now look worse than when I started. We ended up buying some square tiles, a mountain of dirt and a really big pot. The sticker on the tree says it's slow growing. Permanent home moved out a couple of years.
The Israelites however were done waiting. They marched aross the Jordan river on dry ground. Miracle reminiscent of the days of Moses. Joshua told the people to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan river and to stack them up on the oppostie shore as a memorial.
Joshua 4:6 "To serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?'
My children respond to rules and requirements and challenges best when we give them the history. I certainly do better when I remember my stories. Part of why I write is to make record of miracles and God's faithfulness. Memorial Rocks, Memory Trees. Our apple tree has four apple varieties all grafted together. Self Polinating. McIntosh, Fuji, Honey Crisp and Gravenstein. It will be a good reminder to us that we are all different but growing and dependent on each other.
The iconic story in Joshua is the battle of Jericho. God tells the people to march around the city for 6 days. Then on the 7th day they are to march around the city seven times. Big yell. Outer defense wall came crumbling down.
Frequently my battles involve waiting for walls to come down. I fight lots of battles. I look at the photos of Syrian children and battle apathy. I read the news and fight cynicism. We build defenses against industries that want to exploit our daughters. I fight fear and bitterness. I'm grateful that God does not leave any of us to battle alone.
The battle of Jericho and the accompaning story of Rahab inspire me. Rahab was a prostitiute who lived in the city of Jericho. She'd heard the stories of Israel; of plagues and the Red Sea and fire by night. Then she heard that the Israelites were coming to Jericho. Her story is proof that God's whole plan is to graft in anyone who believes. Rahab's future was not determined by her genetic code, her residence, or her *ahem* colorful past. Her future was determined by her decision to listen to the stories of God and to throw in her lot with His team. The fact is Rahab is in the family line of the future Messiah. Beautiful proof that God will include anyone who comes along for the journey.
By the end of the book of Joshua, the Israelites have witnessed miracles, won numerous battles, occupied the territory and divided up the land amongst the 12 tribes. Joshua has a closing speech calling the people to commit.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
We can all get grafted in. Your past doesn't matter. Come along.
Here is your link to The Bible Project's walk through of Joshua. I watch these and learn. I especially like the approach the authors take to hard questions about evil, genocide, war and the like. If you struggle with the wars in the Old Testament and how they fit in with the love your enemy narrative in the New Testament - watch this. The discussion is worth pondering.
Here are links to a couple of author, Francine River's novellas. These two put flesh on the stories of Caleb and Rahab. The stories are included in her larger novels Lineage of Grace and Sons of Encouragement. Both are worth the read.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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