So this weekend I spent every moment I was alone crying in fear and repeatedly refusing to go to bed because I didn’t want Monday to come.
Here’s the question: Why?
“My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving … As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law… Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” from Josh 1. 2-9
I feel with Joshua at this point; transition is scary. Joshua was a) taking over from the huge past leader, and b) about to face enemies the previous generation had claimed were giant and unconquerable. He is scared. Maybe he spent the weekend crying in fear, not wanting Monday to happen. But this is why he would do it anyway: he was about to enter the promised land. This is the communal climax in the lives of 2 generations of people – people who had become nomadic after so long in the wilderness; people who are coming to a land that they are to own. This is a venture that God has both initiated and blessed.
In the big stories in the Bible, I can find my own smaller stories reflected. I’ve never had a job for longer than 10 months and like many students, life since leaving home has been marked by continual uprooting. I moved rooms in my house this month, largely just because it was Summer and I always move in Summer. It would feel weird not to.
I guess the Israelites must’ve felt a more intense version of this the year they stayed.
And here I am, starting a new job that I have been trained to do; that is both God – initiated and God – blessed, being challenged by God on the topic of Permanence – to be ‘permanent’ in my house, job and community. To incarnate something of the permanence of the ‘promised land’, of the ‘kingdom of God’ on this earth. So in these words God spoke to Joshua that I heard spoken yesterday in my community, I find God also saying to me:
“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.“
Did this stop me from being terrified all night? Not at all. But when I got into work this morning, I discovered I really didn’t need to be “frightened or dismayed” afteral.
That God’s words, spoken through the Bible and community, are faithful.
I can only hope that next time I’ll remember this and believe it first time!