We’ve heard it said that “change is inevitable,” and it seems we live in a world that is constantly changing. If you are like me, you find it hard to sometimes keep up with all the changes. I still can’t seem to get the year right. I constantly find myself writing 2016 and then scratching it out to write 2017.
Though change is reality, change doesn’t have to be hard or bad; change is necessary and can be good. As I have been walking through a season of personal change (transitioning from ministry in Delaware to Woodside, selling a house, buying a house, and moving my family to Michigan), God has helped me gain a new perspective on change/transition from the book of Joshua.
In the first chapter of Joshua, God calls Joshua to take Moses’ place and lead the people of Israel. This was a life re-orienting change for both Joshua and the people of Israel. Joshua had been Moses’ assistant for years and Moses was the only leader the people had ever known.
There was a lot of room for fear of the unknown. I can imagine Joshua asking God, “Are you sure I am ready for this? This is a huge responsibility. What if I fail?” I also can imagine the people crying out to God saying, “God, are you sure Joshua is the one you want to lead us. He is no Moses; how can anyone fill the shoes of Moses?”
Both Joshua and the people of Israel find themselves entering a time of transition with a lot of questions, and it is interesting how God responds. He tells Joshua and the people to “be strong and courageous,” not just once but three times!
For many years, I’ve read “be strong and courageous” and immediately picture someone storming the castle of the enemy with nothing but a pitchfork. I used to interpret these commands as a personal call to muster my strength and barge through the change and transition.
But recently I read “be strong and courageous” and instead of stopping at the end of chapter one, I continued reading the rest of Joshua. And you know what I saw? Strength and courage are nothing like I imagined.
Let me explain, in chapter 2 God begins laying out His plan for Israel to overthrow the powerful and fortified city of Jericho. I would expect Joshua to lead the people of God right up to the gates of the city and demand that everyone surrender because God was on their side. But that is not how strength and courage are displayed.
Instead, Joshua sends spies into the city, and they find themselves in Rahab’s (the prostitute) home, hiding until it is safe to return home. Strength and courage through being quiet and hiding?
We see strength and courage again displayed when God gives instructions for how the fall of Jericho will happen. God tells Joshua to march around the city for seven days, and on the seventh day blow your trumpets and have everyone shout – then the walls will come down. That doesn’t seem like strength and courage as I would define it.
You don’t knock walls down by marching and yelling, you knock walls down with force and strength. You would expect the people of God to fail and get slaughtered as they are marching around the city playing instruments. But that is not what happened. The people obey God and the walls of the city fall.
As we look at the stories through Joshua, we continue to see that strength and courage are not displayed as we would expect, instead something greater is going on. God is teaching Joshua and the people that strength and courage look different for those that follow God.
Strength is not found in yourself; strength is found in God. Who had the strength to keep the spies hidden? God. Who had the strength to bring down the walls? God.
Courage shows up when the people trust that God’s ways are right, even when they don’t make earthly sense. Each day that Joshua and the people circled Jericho they had courage to believe that God would be faithful to carry out His promise.
I am thankful for the new perspective on change that God has shown me. As I continue to walk through this season of transition I am going to find my strength in the Lord and have courage to trust Him. My prayer also is for the Warren campus, that as we walk through this season of transition that we would find our strength in the Lord and courage to trust Him.