After a period of time of feeling very weak and exhausted, I have been encouraged by how the Lord has answered my prayers in giving me enriching time in His word. I recently celebrated being in the country for two months and there was a part of me which felt I was done with adjusting and I was ready to move into focusing on working and being in the field. And yet, it seemed the Lord did not have such a transition in mind for me just yet. But, in typical fashion for a task-oriented person, I became frustrated with not getting to do what I thought I was ready for. I was eager to move on to the next phase because surely this adjustment period shouldn’t last much longer. Then I began to wrestle with what the scriptures seemed to be teaching me.
Joshua 7 tells the story of Achan, how he sinned against the Lord by taking treasure from Jericho that was intended to be consecrated to the Lord and how this obedience led to destruction as the Israelites attempted to move further into the Promise land. The beginning of Joshua 7 tells us of how Achan’s sin hurt the Israelites and eventually led to his demise. In isolation, the story of Achan clearly states that we must not disobey the Lord. Something similar happens in parenting, if you disobeyed your parents growing up chances are you received some type of reprimand for your transgression against them.
So the Israelites go on, after Achan is punished for the sin he committed, the Israelites have victory over the next city, Ai. While I read Joshua 8, one verse took on a whole new meaning to me. Joshua 8:2 states, “You shall do to Ai and its king as you did in Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves…”. I was shocked, in the very next city they went to attack, the Lord commanded them to take the plunder for themselves. If only Achan would have waited, then he could have received all he desired and maybe more.
I went back to Joshua 7, and I began to meditate on why Achan disobeyed the command. Although I can’t perceive Achan’s heart in this situation, I can think of why anyone would disobey a command. Inherently, I believe it comes from a distrust, a lack of faith, in the person who gives the command. Achan could have feared that the Lord wouldn’t provide all that he needed, or maybe that he thought he needed more than what the Lord was going to give him. Either way, he took matters into his own hands. He took control of the situation instead of trusting the way God was leading him.
I thought of the ways that I try to take control of my life. When I try to choreograph what my life will look like. In my sin, I don’t want to wait, I want to have what I want right now. Whether that is a thriving ministry, a relationship, or a sense of comfort. I tend to try to make those things happen for myself as quickly as I can. I am not patient, and it is because I don’t trust that where I am right now is good. In Joshua 1:9 God says, “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
What a promise, the Lord tells His people that He will always be with them. Not trusting where God has me reveals how I think I know better. I think I know what my life should look like now. I have to examine myself in those times, do I think the Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as 2 Peter 3:9 says. So instead of attempting to maintain total control, in faith I wait on the Lord to provide all that I need.
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9
So what does it mean to wait on the Lord? For the Israelites it was an active obedience. The beginning of Joshua is riddled with God’s promise that He has already given victory to the Israelite army. He has already delivered their enemies into their hands in order to fulfill His promise of delivering His people into the Promise land. Joshua, leading the army, receives this promise and leads the army into action. Joshua didn’t attack before the Lord commanded and he followed the Lord’s instructions in their war strategy.
Even in the battle of Jericho, despite the city being in an almost impenetrable fortress, the Lord had promised that they would have victory over Jericho. So when God instructed them to simply march around the city for seven days, Joshua obeyed. The walls fell, the Lord’s power and Joshua’s obedience led them to victory. Joshua could have tried to take control of the fight by relying on his own strategy, but instead he trusted that the Lord would fulfill His promise. Joshua exemplifies what it looks like to be a person who trusts in the Lord with all his heart and to not lean on his own understanding as Proverbs 3:5 describes.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6
So I ask myself, “Do I trust that God is working for my good?”, “Am I being faithful and obedient to what He is asking me to do right now?”.
These are the questions I want to continually ask myself as I fix my eyes on where I am now instead of where I could be in the future. Focusing on consecrating this very special season I have been given to glorify God in rest and in dependence on His strength rather than glorifying myself in my works.