There is a story tucked inside a bigger story that grabbed my attention this morning and just will not let go. I keep seeing me there, and some of you. Maybe a little of all of us.
And I wonder what the Father means by it.
It is a story of a people who grew up with nothingness. No houses, no pantries full of special treats, no rich memories of a place to come home to.
Their fathers had messed up badly, their moms right there with them. Even though they’d seen the miraculous, been set free from horrendous enslavement, heard the actual voice of God, still they just couldn’t… or wouldn’t believe. Not really.
And they raised a generation who watched all that. These kids saw the suffering caused by unbelief. Experienced the consequences of their parent’s faithlessness. Smelled the scent of fear that caused a generation to turn away from God.
And chose different.
When these men and women grew up they decided to follow hard after God. No compromise, full on faith-filled obedience.
Over their tent doors hung cross-stitched motivations like:
Love the LORD your God,
Walk in all His ways,
Obey His commandments,
Be faithful to Him,
And serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
And then these men and women were offered a rich land to live in. A land unlike the dessert they’d known all their lives.
Instead of tattered tents, they’d live in cozy cottages clustered within the walls of friendly villages. The women would gather each day around a well with an endless supply of fresh water. Instead of that tiresome stuff to eat each day that they’d grown up on, they would have fresh vegetables, meat, fruit, maybe even a glass of wine.
I can just imagine their hunger for home.
But for a small segment of these young men and women, that hope would have to be put on hold for a while.
They had made a promise, a commitment that they dare not break. They’d seen the consequences when their own parent’s choose to renege on God.
You see, two of the twelve tribes of God-followers were assigned space on the eastern side of the Jordon River. The rest got the west.
The two tribes in minority loved the land they’d been given because it was perfect for them— rich with the grazing land their livestock needed.
But their brothers in the remaining ten tribes needed their help to clear out the western lands before they could occupy it. That meant months and months more of living in those worn out tents…
They feared God more than they feared their own raging wants and so they choose to obey no matter what.
Days and weeks and nights spent being faithful when all they wanted was to go home.
And I wonder this morning how they kept going.
Through battles and weariness and boring weeks of waiting.
How did they do that kind of faithfulness?
How do I?
And the answer lies tucked into end the story.
Their leader, Joshua, is old now. His hair is grey, his once strong back bent.
Yet fierce words of challenge and choice boom from his mouth as he looks his people in the eye. He doesn’t cushion his speech with niceties.
Choose today whom you will serve…
All those alluring idols their parents pursued? So easy, so satisfyingly safe, so undemanding… or
as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD!
Without the slightest doubt, this new generation of God-followers chose-
We are determined to follow the Lord! We will serve the LORD our God. We will obey Him. Joshua 24:21,24
And they did. Every day. A whole generation
They weren’t perfect. They made mistakes. But they did it.
From my heart,
Can you tell us how you choose? Every day? What helps, what makes it possible when all you want to do is whatever you want to do?
Because I see a whole new generation of Jesus-followers who are choosing to be faithful.
May your tribe increase!