Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land…
Do what the Lord has commanded. See to it; you have my orders.”
9 Then Joshua sent them off, and they went to the place of ambush and lay in wait between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai—but Joshua spent that night with the people.
Joshua had just come through a world wind initiation. His mentor had died and he had been catapulted into his new life of leading – of filling Moses’ shoes. Yikes… his very own “first rodeo.”
“Sure,” Joshua must have wondered, “the Lord had always been there for Moses, but will He be there for me?” Oh, and I’m sure the enemy took every opportunity to taunt him, “Maybe Moses that had that special something… Maybe you don’t have what it takes… Maybe this leading thing is all in your head. Maybe you’ll lose. … Surely you’re going to fail.”
But the Lord was kind and compassionate and told him over and over:
“Be strong and very courageous, Joshua….Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And the Lord DOES show up for Joshua. He parts the Jordan River. He meets him along the path. He demolishes the walls of Jericho just by the people’s obedience and praise. And turns the people’s heart toward Joshua, just as they had loved Moses.
Everything Joshua could have hoped for…
But then comes that first crushing defeat. They’re routed. Crushed. Laid out. And all those fears come rushing back. And Joshua ends up on his face.
And then God Almighty, the Eye for an Eye God, the God who left Moses behind God. That God speaks straight to Josh the warrior, “Stand up!” But more importantly Joshua hears what his heart needs, “Don’t be afraid, Josh. Don’t be discouraged. Times like this come. I’ll lead you through them. I’ve got your back. You are not defeated. We’ve got this one in the bag.”
And then, the Creator of the Universe lays out His plan, step by step… speaking Peace to Joshua’s fear, speaking Courage to his despair. Helping him up off his face.
But that’s not even the best part of this story! Because what does Joshua do then? Yes, he does the leader thing and relays The Plan… but then he goes and spends the night with the people.
Joshua didn’t need to do that. He had gotten what he needed from God: He could command now. The dissenting perpetrator had been found out and the ranks had been cleaned. He was free to lead. But instead He went to the people God had placed in his hand. He understood their fear.
Joshua got it. He had been reminded, and understood who was really leading … who was really in command.
He gave away what he had received – so they could all win.
I wonder if the receiving and giving out was the real catalyst God used to bring victory? I wonder if it wasn’t the defeat that brought the real victory to Joshua’s heart. Of course God doesn’t need any man to do any thing. But the fact is He chooses to use us… despite ourselves.
What a wonderfully crazy, dumbfounding, groundbreaking loving Father we have.
Bottom line: What I receive from God, is meant for sleepovers.
Father, you are everything and more than I need. Let me follow you into all the plans you have for me – — through the victories and through the defeats.