So… My last post here was over two months ago. More on that at another time, but allow me just to say: There’s a strong correlation between spending time with God and in his word, and actually having the path ahead of you become very difficult to walk.
Proverbs 3:6 says: In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight; which also means that the paths aren’t so straight when you’re not acknowledging him.
But into Joshua 8.
This chapter yelled at me from verse 1.
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
Some back story – for those of us who stopped spending time in the word for the last two months. In the last chapter, the Israelites went up against Ai, but were defeated – no, they weren’t just defeated, they were annihilated. They didn’t walk in the plans that God had held for them, and things went very wrong – it actually sounds a bit like my life of recent months, but I digress.
So they get whipped, and come running back to God, tail between their legs, admitting that they did something wrong.
It’s such an easy thing to get caught up in the memory of what went wrong. How hard is it to restart, sometimes, after we’ve fallen away? It’s like every time we fail, it’s harder to try again.
When I was in Hawaii recently, I tried wakeboarding. I attempted three times before I decided I just wasn’t going to do it.
Three times. Then I gave up.
At least for now – I’m telling myself that come summer here in Australia, I’ll give it another go; and hopefully I will – but what if it doesn’t happen?
Imagine suffering such a defeat like the Israelites did. It would be easy to get down on themselves, to worry about what’s going to happen next time.
But God’s there, just like the Father that he is, telling Joshua not to be afraid, not to be discouraged – go up and attack Ai, because he has delivered the whole city, its people, its land, its king into their hands.
And Joshua does it. This time he follows God’s lead, and sure enough, they are victorious.
It’s a cliche statement to “get back on the horse” – but the thing about cliches is that there’s usually a reason they’ve become cliche – they’re pretty accurate. One of the many wonderful things about God, is that he may discipline us, he may chastise us, he may allow us to learn some lessons the hard way, but the thing is that when we come back to him, he’s always there to say, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged – get out there, and this time, succeed.”
There’s one other thing, though. After the success, after the victory, Joshua and the Israelites didn’t just celebrate and move on. There was one more step.
They went up Mount Ebal and renewed their covenant with God.
Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law – the blessings and the curses – just as it is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them. ~ Joshua 8:34-35
This is the other part of what we need to do – and a part that I know I sometimes forget.
Renew the covenant.
I fail – a lot. I sin. I fall. I struggle. Every time, though, God is there when I turn around, saying, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. You’ll get it this time.”
He always comes through, which is great, but then comes my part. Renewing the covenant. Laying my life down again and giving it back over to Him. Renewing my life with him.