The Stretch: Wherever We Go

Joshua 1
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead.

Why did God tell them Moses was dead when they already knew it? Remembering and honoring Moses is acceptable and appropriate, but Moses isn’t there anymore. There’s no life with Moses, and it can become unhealthy to think that there was.

Moses's story is full of incredible events, but he didn’t start out that way. He grew a lot and made some mistakes, but no one could argue that he was an amazing man with an unbelievable life and legacy.

They left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and saw God do unbelievable things. There were hard times, but they were bought into God’s provision, presence, and power. Who could attempt to follow that? Why would anyone want to try?

Because there’s more up ahead.

There’s more that God wanted to do. He was just getting started. We love hearing that because it gives us tremendous hope. It gives us the strength to navigate difficult times and circumstances, and it ought to.

Even when there are obstacles to overcome, challenges to face, or things that feel dark, God is at work and in control.

But there’s a catch to how God does this that often causes us to misunderstand and miss out on all God’s doing. We often pray for God to, “meet me here.” The good news is that He does, but He doesn’t stay in the spot where you are.

God meets you right where you are and how you are, but He never leaves you there.

He calls for you and leads you a step from where you are.

Joshua 1
Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

It’s time to move forward, to cross the next river. It’s a different body of water than Moses crossed but requires the same faith. Celebrate what God has done in the past, honor it, and realize we stand on the shoulders of it.

But we can’t live there, we can’t stay there.

When the future seems uncertain, we’re often tempted to do one of two things.

  1. To go back to some point in the past (mentally, emotionally, physically) when things were easier to understand, more comfortable, or more in control. Interestingly, as you are going through the past season, it was uncertain, too. The benefit of hindsight provides us with an understanding of how it all makes sense.

  2. To stay where we are, preserve things right in the moment. Sometimes, it’s a really good moment. Sometimes, it’s not, but at least we can understand and make sense of it. But the moment passes, things change, and God doesn’t stand still.

So even when we try to do this, we can’t.

It’s this constant process of celebrating, remembering, grieving, releasing, and receiving. As a parent, this cycle is continuous as kids grow up. It’s a constant pattern of release and receive. So, we have to take a step, and we can do it with hope and expectation. This isn’t because of who we are or even what our circumstances are but because of who God is.

If we hold on to what is, we’ll never be able to fully receive what’s next.

Joshua 1
4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;

This was unimaginable to Joshua and these early people, even with what they had seen God do before. So big. So overwhelming.

The great work wasn’t only back there, it’s up here. It’s not behind, it’s out in front.

In some ways, we face a more challenging, divided world than our predecessors. It’s a complicated world to try to be the church in. It will take more faith. It will take us stepping out into the unknown, which is costly, uncertain, and scary.

Joshua 1
I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

God was enough for the past, is enough for the present, and will be enough for whatever the future brings.

But we have to center on Him and build on the foundation that is His way. We can’t just pray prayers and do it our own way. And because God knows that there’s much that can cause us to waver, much that seems overwhelming, He repeats it.

Joshua 1
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

  • Have I not commanded – This isn’t an optional path for God’s people.
  • Be Strong – Strength is who we need to be. It’s a character, something you choose, and something you develop. It hurts, even aches, as you develop it – like working out and building muscle. It’s not something that happens to you.

However, sometimes we don’t feel strong. It’s in those moments, that Satan feeds us the lie that because we don’t feel it, we aren’t it. In reality, God is saying this is something we choose, not something we always feel.

How do we become (strong)? By making the small decisions repeatedly, especially when we don’t feel it. Strength is character, built by taking small, repeated steps over time. We like to think of strength as big, single feats, similar to the World’s Strongest Man competition or someone lifting a car. However, true strength is different than that.

Then there’s courage. Courage is an action-oriented quality that goes hand in hand with strength. Courage puts strength to work, and it doesn’t work if we stand still. It only works if we’re facing something or we’re moving.

God won’t always give us the answers we want, and He won’t always give us the comfort of the familiar. He doesn’t dwell back there because He’s here. He’s up ahead, out in front. And in those places God always promises us His presence.

Why do we need to be strong and courageous? Because there will be things that profoundly challenge us, our understanding, and even our security and peace.

Being strong and courageous isn’t something we just feel, it’s something we do.

When we, the people of God, neglect being strong and moving out into the places God is calling us to, other strong forces in the world move into those places instead. Neglecting being strong gives us an excuse to throw up our hands. As fear begins to paralyze us, we become victims of villains.

There are so many Christian songs and quotes about our weakness. And we are weak on our own. When we are weak, He is strong, but God calls us to step out to access that strength.

Weakness is where God meets us. It’s not where He leaves us.

In life, we can’t stay here, even if things feel really good the way they are, because even when we try to, all that is changing. We can take a deep breath, savor the moment, and be thankful, but we must also prepare to move.

The future, our world, and even our lives seem uncertain. It feels like everything has changed and is changing often, and sometimes, that’s not for the better. But hold onto God’s word. Don’t be afraid, don’t give up, God is still with you.

You can be strong, not because you feel it, but because God is strong alongside you. Wherever He takes us in the future, together, He’ll be there, too.

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