Freedom Friday: Jordan River Assignments

Guess who arrived October 8th?

Baby girl at 1 month old

Baby girl at 1 month old

She’s actually 7 weeks old. We’re doing great! She’s a healthy little girl who is most comfortable in her mommy’s arms, so blogging time is extremely limited!

That said, I wanted to share about a moment a couple of weekends ago. I went to speak and exhibit at the district Assemblies of God Women’s Retreat (yes, with a 5 week old – I should have my head examined). I was sharing something with a woman named Michelle at the booth next to me, something I noticed about the story of Joshua stepping into the Jordan River. This story has been such a central theme of recent years, I shared, that my daughter’s middle name is Jordan.

At that moment, a friend joined the conversation. She jokingly referred to my daughter as “Jordan River Simonds.” Michelle misheard my friend as saying, “Jordan River Assignments.” Wow, did that get my wheels turning!

Joshua’s Jordan River Assignment began with camping next to a flooded river for 3 days – a river he knew he needed to cross in order to reach the Promised Land. Many believe that Joshua 1:11 implies this was based on a directive from God. The 2nd part of his assignment was to have the priests step into that flooded river and trust that God would provide a way where there was no way.

While the actual assignment for the Israelites was to cross the Jordan, the heart behind the assignment was a command to trust God and to not be afraid. This is why God’s first directive to Joshua was to be strong and courageous (said here and here).

When facing the Jordan, the Israelites could have easily concluded, based on God’s history of parting bodies of water, “But doesn’t God want us to walk on dry land?”

They could have determined that the way God behaves = the way He behaved when He parted the Red Sea rather than determining to believe the truth about God: that in the midst of His call to be strong and courageous, He will carry us through whatever He calls us to.

We all have Jordan River Assignments – things that seem impossible for us. I wrote about this a few years ago. But God truly is able.

Sometimes God’s assignment for us is to let us camp on the riverbank at flood stage.

Perhaps you are camped on the riverbank of an assignment that seems impossible for you. You feel the spray of every obstacle as it splashes against your face.

God is calling you today to look beyond the overflowing river that is before you and to see the Promised Land. All that stands between you and the fullness of all God has for you is a few Jordan River Assignments.

Freedom Friday: A Lesson in Priorities

I’ve been re-reading Joshua for my next book project (details later!). Reading at least a chapter a day of Scripture really has helped me keep the events in perspective as they relate to one another.

Chapters 7-8 is a slightly painful section of Joshua. After several stories of victory and radical obedience on the way to the Promised Land, Israel loses its battle with Ai. You can read the story here.

Here are some lessons we can gather from the story.

Ask God, Why?
Joshua immediately goes before the Lord. He tears his clothes, falls facedown, and begs God to answer his cries and pardon him.

Often times, we are told that good Christians don’t question God. Just accept His sovereignty and whatever He sends your way. While that can be very good advice at times, there is also wisdom in reminding God of His promises (I’ve blogged about this in one of my most popular posts) and finding out where you might have gone wrong.

James wrote, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (1:5, NLT).” If you need understanding about a situation in your life, ask for it. If God doesn’t give you insight, then trust Him to guide you through.

Don’t settle.
Joshua does go immediately before the Lord, but his prayer is eye-opening. Rather than simply asking God, What happened? he says, in essence, Why did we ever cross the Jordan? This whole “getting into the Promised Land” is too hard! Why didn’t we just accept “good enough”?

Joshua, a man of great faith, was settling. He was falling into “wilderness mentality.”

Joshua likely spent decades in the wilderness. His traveling companions weren’t exactly pillars of confidence. If only we never left Egypt! they cried. Egypt was good enough!

Joshua was so happy to be out of slavery and out of the wilderness that he thought maybe the Israelites should have permanently made camp on the other side of the Jordan. It was, after all, “good enough.”

But it wasn’t God’s perfect plan.

So how did God reply to Joshua in this situation? Verse 10 records, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?”

This isn’t what I have for you, Joshua. Get up, and I’ll show you my best.

We must choose not to settle for what appears to be good. As a pastor of mine says, “The good is often the enemy of God’s best.”

Give God your best first.
In chapter 6, Joshua is clear in his directions to the Israelites as they prepare to circle Jericho: “Don’t keep any of the devoted things.” Achan disobeys and hides some things under his tent.

What made this account extra sad in my recent reading is that in the following chapter, when Israelites attack Ai again, God allows the Israelites to “carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves.”

Why would God do this? Why couldn’t they just take plunder from Jericho? Was it just an arbitrary lesson in obedience?

As I shared in this post, one of God’s main directives to the Israelites as they prepared to leave the wilderness behind was that they continue to walk in obedience to His commandments. They would not be successful in the Promised Land if they did not choose to obey whatever God required of them.

That said, I heard someone say recently that this is an example of the firstfruits principles. God wants our best first. He wants our offering (tithe) first. It can’t be an afterthought to be a worthy offering. Thus, God wanted the plunder from Jericho to first be an offering to Him. He was asking the Israelites to trust that they would receive their own blessings in due time.

God wants our best, and He wants to give us His best. He wants us to align our priorities with His priorities. We need to ask, we can’t settle, and we must give God our best.

Happy New Year! Wherever You Go……

Happy New Year, Freedom Friends!

2013 is officially over, and 2014 is in full swing.

The New Year’s resolutions have been made. We’re excited about a fresh start. Out with the old – in with the new! Right?


That’s the hope, isn’t it? Isn’t that why we love this season? New Years brings a fresh round of “Change Your _____, Change Your Life!” Have you ever played this game? It begins with “If Only’s”:

If only I lose weight…
If only I move…
If only I find a new job…
If only I found a good partner…

Then my life would change.

Then we might lose the weight, or relocate; we find the job or the new spouse. Usually, we’re not successful. The outcome doesn’t necessarily settle the disillusionment we feel because we thought for sure things would be better “if only.”

Why is that? Because the saying is true:

Wherever you go, there you are

Have you ever thought about what this really means? We get so focused on changing our external circumstances that we forget this simple truth: most external issues flow out of internal issues. So no matter where you go or how much weight you lose, inside you are still you. If we don’t allow God to change the internal, changing the externals will not have the hoped-for result. We will experience the same trials, the same struggles, the same unhelpful thought patterns. We will do the same thing again and again and expect different results.

I started re-reading the book of Joshua today. The Israelites are about to cross the Jordan to head into the Promised Land. God gives Joshua a string of directives and things to remember, ending with, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The Israelites had a few things they needed to work on. They needed to trudge forward without fear. They needed to remember the instructions God gave Moses on how to live, meditating on them day and night. They needed to choose courage and not discouragement. And finally, they needed to remember that wherever you go, there God is.

What would happen if in 2014, we played the “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life” game?

What would happen if we began the New Year focused on who He is rather than who we want to become?

How about we make it goal to take God at His Word in 2014, no matter what comes our way, meditating on that Word day and night? What if we allow God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to change the internals and allow the external changes to flow out of God remaking us from the inside out? What if we chose hope and courage instead of fear and disillusionment? If we really believed that nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 17:20), and that we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), if we truly believe God is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9), how drastically different would our lives be?

Wherever you go, there God is.

What about you? What is God speaking to you about your hopes for the new year? 

Freedom Friday: My Stone of Remembrance

“People come and people go; only You remain. Constant. Faithful. Loving. Kind. Good. Comforting. Patient. Wonderful.” I tweeted this on Monday.

To say I’ve been struggling in the past year, and even more so since my father died, is an understatement. Some days, weeks, months are more difficult than others. I find myself anxious, despairing, eating to numb the feelings.

I had been asking myself, if this were someone besides me, how would I be advising them? How would I be helping them? I would be telling them to give themselves grace, that God deeply deeply loves them, and that He doesn’t see them as the broken person that they see themselves to be.

So, I have just been telling myself those things. That I am God’s favorite. His beloved. Cherished. That He has so much more for me than I have allowed myself to experience.

Something happened almost 2 months ago to make these things feel even more real and true.

On April 9th, I was driving to work as I do many days. I was on the highway, going just under 60 miles per hour.   It was in the mid 70s, so I had the window open about 5-6 inches. There was a truck in the lane to the left of me, driving about 10 feet in front of me.

All of a sudden, several rocks flew out of the truck. The trajectory of each rock was different, so there was no way to swerve or try and get out of the path of the rocks.

Several of the rocks were large and coming straight at me, so I did what I thought to do: I ducked! My windshield already has a crack in it, which has been repaired, but I didn’t know if it’s still as strong as an intact windshield would be.

I heard a big clanking noise and looked up, expecting my windshield or window to be shattered. It wasn’t. I finally realized the rock must have come right in the crack in the window, not breaking anything, and narrowly missing my head. 

I felt God speaking to my heart, “See, Brenna? I am faithful.”

When I finally got a chance to stop, I looked for the rock. It was by the passenger side door, and it was the smallest one that had fallen off the truck. Some of the rocks looked as big as the palm of my hand.

The rock in my car

I’m keeping the rock. It is a stone of remembrance for me, like when Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River.

Look back on your life, on your stones of remembrance. Those hopeless situations where God allowed His hope to shine through. Those small lights in your life. Write them down. Reflect on them. Trust in the character of the God who parted the Jordan at flood stage.

God is faithful. And His faithfulness shines best in impossible-seeming, flood-stage situations. Choose to trust today in the God who can calm the storm and part the waters.

Freedom Friday: Embrace Discomfort

We are in Boston.

I’m back in our condo, the place we’ve lived for the past 6 1/2 years.

It’s comfortable here.

I know where everything is. I know what to expect. Sure, it has its cons, but at least it’s predictable.

As I walked in for the first time in 6 weeks, I couldn’t help but wonder:

Did we make the right decision?

Change is hard. I’ve written about this before.

Since May, I’ve been training for a marathon. I kept thinking that because God called me to register, it would get easier. I’d get faster. Maybe I’d even get that light and fresh feeling that runners talk about.

I have some issues with my legs. They hurt, a lot. They feel like lead sometimes when I run. They never really feel good.

I had a hope that God would heal them while I was running, that He would be glorified in how quickly and how gloriously I finished.

Well, God did not heal my legs while I ran. And while I started off strong, I kept getting slower and slower. My stomach revolted. My body screamed at me for pretty much 20 miles.

But I didn’t give up.

I decided since God called me to run to raise awareness about a cause about which I am deeply passionate, since He asked me to be a voice for the voiceless, it wasn’t about glamor.

As part of our transition to Virginia, I am leaving the ministry that God has allowed me to shape over the past 9.5 years and be shaped by. As I spoke to my dear, dear friends at Alive in Christ this week, I remembered something.

Often we must embrace the discomfort in order to be obedient.

We must embrace the discomfort to get to the Promised Land.  I wrote about this in Stepping into your Jordan (one of my favorite posts, and a timely reminder).  I wrote about it years ago in Craving Egypt.

The Israelites did not want to embrace the discomfort.

Egypt was familiar. Yeah, they might have been slaves, but there are meat to eat there, not this miracle bread from heaven!

And the Promised Land was scary. There were giants there, and rivers at flood stage, and towns with high walls around them.

I finished the marathon. It was not pretty.

And as I spoke to my wonderful perseverers at Alive in Christ the other night, I reminded them (and myself) that sometimes we need to embrace the pain of discomfort in order to take hold of all God has for us.

Today, I pack. Today, I keep answering the same questions: did you sell the condo? Did you get jobs? No and no. This move doesn’t make any logical sense, yet we embrace the discomfort in order to walk forward in what we believe God is calling us to.

Lord, I don’t want to wander aimlessly in the wilderness for decades when the journey need only take 2 weeks. I want all You have for me. Help me to trust, to step out, to take hold of Your hand as You guide and lead. Help us to embrace discomfort, believing that the Promised Land is on the other side.

Freedom Friday: You Are Precious

As most of you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I have 2 little boys under the age of 4.

I tell them regularly that they are precious, they are cherished, and they are accepted. I share with them the joy I have in being their mom, and what a privilege it is to spend all day hanging out with them. I explain that though my love runs very deep, they also have a Heavenly Father who loves them even more, so much that He gave up everything for them.

Despite my good intentions, I yell too much. I am not nearly as patient as I’d like to be. I struggle with my words and my actions toward them at times. I find myself needing to apologize more often than I wish I needed to.

My children are very forgiving. Much more forgiving than I am of myself.

I am an imperfect parent. We are all imperfect. I don’t say that to excuse my behavior. It is simply a statement about my, and everyone’s, reality. Even if I were always patient, always kind, never raising my voice or using a harsh word, I still would not communicate perfectly my, and God’s, love for them.

When I speak these truths to my children, that they are adored, they are loved, that God created them for a specific purpose and with unique gifts, that I am so blessed to be their mom – they are not old enough to fully understand all that this means. That’s okay. I want these truths to sink into their little hearts so deeply that by the time they are old enough to understand, these truths will be so ingrained in them that they will be their reality.

Last week, I talked about resting in God. One of the reasons we need to rest in God is to receive from Him all those things He thinks about us and wants to deposit into our hearts.

When I became a Christian, a counselor taught me to identify the lies I believed about myself. They were so deeply ingrained in me that it has taken a very long time to uproot them. I’m still weeding through some.

One way I learned to recognize the lies was by learning the truth. Take a second to do a Google search for “who I am in Christ”. Try and find a list that includes Old Testament references as well. By learning these truths and getting them deposited deep in my heart, it was much easier to recognize when I was struggling with the lies.

Here are a few of those truths.

As a believer, you have been adopted into God’s family and have become His precious child (John 1:12).

You are forgiven (Ephesians 1:8; Colossians 1:14).

You have been bought with a price; you belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

You are chosen (Ephesians 1:3-8).

You have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18).

You are safe (1 John 5:18).

God will never forget you (Isaiah 49:15), nor will He ever leave you or forsake you (Deutoronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5).

You have been written on the palm of God’s hand (Isaiah 49:16).

You are loved with an everlasting love. God has drawn you with lovingkindness (Jeremiah 31:3).

We know what love is because God first reached out in love to us (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16, 4:19).

All these things are true for you simply because you are a child of God. There is nothing you could do, nothing you could achieve, no amount of hard work or even wandering that could make these things more or less true.

You are worth knowing, worth loving, and worth creating. Our Heavenly Father declared it so when He sent His one and only, precious, perfect, deeply loved Son to die on a cross.

I encourage you to let these truths sink into your heart. Rest in God, and allow Him to speak them directly to you. Learn to rest in the knowledge of who you are. Like with my children, it will likely soak into your heart long before you even begin to fully understand it.

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesian 3:17b-19

A few months ago, my older son turned to me and said, “You are precious!” Just a few days ago, he told his little brother the same thing.

It is sinking in.

You are precious. You are cherished. Let it sink in.

Freedom Fridays: Trust or Despair?

Think of the biggest struggle in your life right now, the thing that plagues you. The issue you’ve dealt with for so long that you can’t imagine ever feeling free of it.

Now imagine yourself in a place of great victory. You are finally learning to walk in freedom as it pertains to your struggle.

You have overcome obstacles that used to appear to be Mount Everest. Now you feel as if you have conquered Mount Everest!

I’m rapidly nearing the end of Joshua. Today, I read chapter 23.

It’s exciting to imagine the Israelites in the Promised Land. The land had been divided; the Israelites had received their inheritance. They were settling in to their new homes.

We hear Joshua imploring the Israelites to continue to follow God with everything they have.

So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.

Put yourself back in that place of great victory you envisioned at the beginning of this post.

Now imagine you are an Israelite.

You have stepped into your Jordan.

You gathered your stones of remembrance.

You have seen challenges through God’s eyes.

You have learned the importance of consulting God in all things.

And now you are living in the fullness of God’s specific plan for you.

No wonder you feel as if you’ve conquered a giant mountain! Surely now you can exhale and finally relax.

Now, imagine you are facing another obstacle that makes you wonder if you made up the Promised Land. What feelings rise up within you? Hope? Fear? Trust? Or Despair?

The reality of life is that we are bound, just like the Israelites, to face challenges. We don’t have control over that. But we do have control over how we respond.

Despair used to be one of my default settings. And it’s no surprise. I’ve had a challenging life. The circumstances and situations I have faced could easily point me to despair. Many of those things seemed hopeless.

But slowly, by seeing God’s faithfulness, by learning to tell myself the truth, by choosing to trust in God’s goodness, my tendency to despair is something I’ve slowly been able to overcome.

Now, when the despairing thoughts come, I replace them with truth.

When I worry about the details, I say out loud: “God will take care of me. He doesn’t give His kids stones when they ask for bread. I am worth more than many sparrows.”

I remember 2 Corinthians 4:8: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Then I pray through it:

“God, help me to be perplexed, confused, but not to fall into despair. Persecuted, yes, but God, You NEVER abandon me. Struck down, but Lord, you are my strong tower, a refuge in times of trouble, an ever-present help in time of need. Lord, thank You that the lions may grow weak & hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

In that moment of maybe, I have a choice: despair in my circumstances or trust in my God.

As I finish up Joshua, I’m excited and apprehensive concerning not only what the Israelites will face next, but more importantly how they will choose to respond.

How will you respond today? When trials come, will you rely on your feelings to dictate your truth, or will you once again choose to trust in Your Creator, the Freedom Giver? Will you choose to believe the father of lies or the lifter of your head?

The old hymn “Before the Throne of God Above” comes to mind.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Looking up, as Joshua did, not looking at our challenges, but looking at our God. The God who hung from the cross, who gave up everything for you & me, surely He is trustworthy. Are you, as I wrote about last week, choosing to hold on to hopelessness and despair, or are you willing to unclench your fists, open your hands to God, and see what He has for you?

Freedom Friday: God’s Specific Plan

I recently had an interesting conversation with a group of friends about whether or not God has a specific plan for our lives.

It seems many were brought up in a generation that was very focused on uncovering your specific “plan & purpose” that God created you for. Having prayed for years, hoping to discern this purpose, some have given up on finding it.

As you all know, I’m reading Joshua. Slowly.

I have to admit that getting in the later chapters, it can be a little tedious to read all the town names and valley names and which tribe got what land, etc.

But as I read, I can’t help but think about how specific God’s plan is. He spelled it out for them. It was His job to make His plan clear, not their job to somehow locate it.

I used to kill myself trying to find God’s plan. I understand the brand of frustration my friends shared about. I’d get on my knees and tell God I wasn’t moving until He spoke to me & told me everything I wanted to know about my future.

Then, one day, in May of 2004 while teaching at a student ministry conference, He spoke. Here is part of what He said.

“I do have a plan for you – a wonderful plan that will shock, delight and surprise you, a plan that will blow your small ambitions out of the water.” He then went on to tell me I wasn’t ready to hear about that plan.

This wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

God spoke to my heart that day that I needed to be still and experience Him as God, that He is so different than any other relationship I’ve ever experienced. He called me to climb up into His lap and allow Him to change me, to lean back & rest my head against His heart so I might know & experience all the wonderful things He feels for me.

God didn’t primarily want to “use” me, as in have me do great things; He primarily wanted to change me. His goal for me in that time was to deposit in my heart His love, the new identity He died to give me, and His vision for my wholeness.

It’s amazing to look back on that time in my life, and see what God has done in those 7 years. When I look at His children now, I wish I could literally take what God has deposited into my heart (His deep & passionate love for each of us, His tender care & compassion, His desire to see us walk in freedom & live abundant lives) and transplant it into someone else’s heart. I now do this little by little, bit by bit, through teaching, writing, and blogging. I would not be able to do that now if I hadn’t allowed God to work in me for the past 7 years.

Let me be clear. I absolutely believe God has a specific plan for each of His children who call Him by name.

But we can kill ourselves (and kill our faith) trying to “find” it.

Jesus said my sheep hear my voice. Period. The God who spoke the whole world into existence can make His voice heard by you when you need to hear it.

God does not give us a road map. It would be easier in some ways if He did, but then we wouldn’t have to trust in Him and cling to Him so tightly; we’d simply have to trust in the map.

I don’t want to get to know a map. I want to purpose to know my Creator, the One who shaped me & formed me & laid out my life.

I’m not going to argue over whether or not God literally maps out every minute of every day. What I do know is that God created each of us with gifts & talents, passions & desires, that He wants to use in specific ways.

Rather than strive to find the map, it’s been much healthier (as my friends mentioned above have also realized) for me to try and follow His commands and teachings, to love Him and continually surrender to Him, to dream, to live out Proverbs 3:5-6, trusting He will make my paths straight as I go, rather than always seeking after the next big thing or sign. In the midst of that, as I cling to God, as I read His Word & spend time with His people, God will show me what He has for me.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

If you’re looking for help discerning whether or not you are hearing God’s voice, this blog post might help.

Freedom Friday: Seeing with God’s Eyes

Good day, Freedom Friday readers!

We’re still on Joshua here. I know; I can’t help it! It’s just that good!

Let’s turn to Joshua 5 🙂 The Israelites have just stepped into the Jordan, crossed it, and taken up their Stones of Remembrance. Joshua circumcised the Israelites, they healed & rested, and then they celebrated the Passover.

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Many commentators on this passage believe that the commander of the army of the LORD was Jesus Himself. Joshua worshipped Him & referred to Him as “my Lord”. Prior to this time, God had been speaking directly to Joshua, over & over. He had not bodily appeared to Joshua, nor had an angel visited him.

Why, then, did Joshua need God Himself to come speak to him face to face?

I can’t help but wonder if he was possibly discouraged.

Notice that Joshua was near his obstacle when the above happened. What he was thinking about? Was he staring at the obstacle, wondering how they could ever overcome it? Had he forgotten all the Lord has already done? I imagine him standing there, trying to remind himself of who his deliverer was. In that moment, the ESV translation says that Joshua “lifted up his eyes.”

The commander of the Lord’s army, whoever he was, reminded Joshua to consecrate Himself to the Lord and to press on.

6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.

Huh? That doesn’t even make sense. To the natural eye, Jericho was shut up, snug as a bug in a rug, with high walls and no way in. No one was even coming or going. But God said to Joshua, “Look at this with my eyes. I have already delivered this city into your hands.”

I have had a series of challenging events in my life recently. It’d be quite easy to get discouraged based on the circumstances I see around me.

The truth about life for us all is that it’d be easy to find things to be rip courage out of us, and it’s much more difficult to find things to deposit courage into us.

But the reality of following Jesus is you & I have already been set free from the laws of sin and death. In fact, you’ve already been set free from that thing that just came to mind as you doubted the truth of my last sentence. That situation you are looking at, the one that seems perfectly hopeless, God is saying, “Consecrate yourself to me. I already have a plan to be glorified. I will deliver you from that thing that has you bound. I can do the miraculous in the midst of that hopeless situation. Look at this with my eyes.”

Are you speaking truth to yourself concerning your troubling situation, the obstacles facing you? Are you placing your hope in all the ways you have possibly conjured up to fix it, or all the possible outcomes you’ve imagined? Or are you hoping in the power of God, the same God who parted the Jordan, and as we read on, brought down the mighty walls of Jericho?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What we see, our struggles, our circumstances, our burdens, are not only light & momentary, but they are temporary. Read that again: this is temporary.

We have a choice: stare at the walls of Jericho, or look into the eyes of our great God.

In Joshua’s moment of discouragement, he chose to look to His Creator, the Lover of his soul, His Deliverer. And in that moment, it seems as if God replied, “Because you chose to look to me, I am about to do something amazing.

"But They Did Not Consult The Lord…"

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for the past few weeks, I am (too) slowly reading Joshua. I’ve been trying to read a chapter a day, but as per usual, life is getting in the way.

And by “life”, I mean having messed up priorities and a misplaced focus.

Anyway, as God does in His faithfulness, today He has used my slacker-ness and turned it around on me. Despite the fact that I haven’t read Joshua since Thursday and should be on chapter 13 at this point, He used chapter 9 to challenge me & bless my socks off.

Take a minute and soak in just how good God is to us. So patient, so loving.

Thanks, God.

Anyway, in my reading today, the Israelites are in the process of claiming the Promised Land as their own. They defeated Ai in the 2nd battle, after Ai originally defeated them due to Achan’s sin. After this victory, Joshua takes the time to remind the Israelites of the blessings & curses spelled out in the book of instruction, as well as every word of every command.

Joshua was following through with God’s earlier instructions for success:

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Joshua consulted the Lord in all he did. Until he didn’t.

The Gibeonites had heard what the Israelites had done to Ai & Jericho, and verse 4 says “they resorted to deception to save themselves.”

They disguised themselves so it appeared they had been on a long journey. When they came and requested for a treaty, Joshua asked, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” When they replied, “we are your servants,” Joshua demanded, “But who are you? Where do you come from?”

The Gibeonites said they had come from a very distant country. They had heard of the Israelites’ God and of all He did in Egypt, at the Jordan, and Jericho & Ai. “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.”

Here is how Joshua responded: “So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord.”

You can likely guess how this ends. Joshua makes a treaty with the Gibeonites, thinking they live far away, only to find out they live in the Promised Land. Joshua keeps his word and upholds the treaty, but loses part of the Promised Land.

The weight of this hit me.

Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

Am I missing out on God’s promises and His blessings because I forget to stop & ask God to inform my decisions?

Do I say “yes” to opportunities that appear to have God-glorifying potential because it seems like a good thing to do?

Or do I ask for God’s input every time I prepare to take a step in any direction?

Lord, forgive me for often acting without asking. Help me to remember You in every step, even every small move I make. Let the weight of “Apart from me you can do nothing” convict me and inform my every decision. You are good.