“Be strong and courageous.”
These words of the LORD to Joshua rang in my heart this year as we made the Big Move “back home” from Colorado to Minnesota.
I have experienced extreme ambivalence about this move.
One half of me is ecstatic to be here. I love being near my parents and a couple of my sisters. It is a joy to have them show up at Jack’s soccer game or to have my mom babysit so Tim and I can make a massive trip to Ikea. I love our new house and community with the 13 kids in the alley every evening.
The other half of me is mourning. I began mourning months before we left Colorado and the tears surprise me even today. I mourn the loss of the coworkers, friends, and spiritual family I found in Colorado. I mourn for my husband who didn’t want to leave, but did for me. I mourn the loss of our old house and schools.
Moving our family has been one of the hardest things we have done. I also think it could be one of the best things we have done.
Even the best changes are difficult. The very best changes take courage.
Joshua & Judges are a strange pair of books side by side. In Joshua, the people are starting fresh as they enter the land of Canaan. All seems well.
When Joshua led the Israelites from the wilderness into the promised land, the LORD called Joshua to “Be strong and courageous”four times. (1:6, 7, 9, 18)
Why should Joshua be strong and courageous? Because the LORD was going with Him into the land to fulfill the promise to Abraham way back in Genesis. “The LORD your God will give you rest by giving you this land.” ( Joshua 1:13)
Acting in courage with God results in rest.
The work of Joshua and the people in the book of Joshua is not easy. It is not pretty. But in conquering their enemies and settling in the land God promised, it is good.
But as the people begin to settle into Canaan in the book of Judges, things begin to fall apart. Not only do the people begin to forget the work of the LORD on their behalf, but they start to worship other gods and act in heinous ways.
There is a lot of sin. There is a lot of blood.
Why? According to Judges, “everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 17:6; 21:25)
No longer were the people acting in courage, going against the culture, living for God. No longer were the people standing for Him. Instead they did whatever they wanted. There is a cyclical pattern in Judges of Rebellion against God, Repercussion in the form of an enemy, Repentance of the people, and Rescue by God through a judge.
And yet, even in Judges God never left the Israelites to fend for themselves once they had turned to Him. Every time, God provided for the Israelites what they needed when they needed it. No matter their sexual immorality, their pagan worship, their doubt, or their fear, when the people humbled themselves before God, He raised them up.
As we settle into our new life in the midst of great ambivalence, I feel my need for God’s presence. I know that I cannot do this on my own. If there is going to be rest in this house, it needs to come from God.
I am tempted to formulate it myself. I want to manipulate and scheme in my own way, acting out of my own fears and anxieties, in order to receive what I think we need. But if we can learn anything from Joshua and Judges, it is that true peace and security comes only from God.
Wherever we find ourselves in life, whether in our greatest joys or deepest sorrows, we can know that God is with us, ready to provide. Let us remain strong and courageous in the midst of our uncertainty.