“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?’” Joshua 5:13 (NIV)
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Standing in the formidable shadow of difficult circumstances that refuse to budge, while fear whispers in our ear about the inevitability of our defeat.
That’s one of the many reasons I’m so thankful for God’s Word. Because tucked into its pages, we find story after story of people who can help us learn in the midst of our battles. People who show us what it means to look to and depend upon the Lord.
Take Joshua, for example. If ever someone might feel overwhelmed at a situation totally out of their control, his experience facing Jericho was it.
Not only did the wall surrounding Jericho look invincible, but there also was the issue of Israel’s army lacking proper weapons for tackling such an impressively guarded city. You can’t exactly pull down walls with arrows and spears. That’s a job for battering rams and catapults — items noticeably missing from their arsenal.
But they had come too far to turn back. And the people of Israel were counting on Joshua to lead them into this land promised by God.
With all these facts and details weighing on him, Joshua is suddenly confronted by a man with a drawn sword. Scripture reveals this is no mere human. This is the commander of the Lord’s army — God’s presence in human form. And this is no everyday occurrence either. It is an incredible encounter.
Seeing the man is ready for battle, Joshua asks, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13b)
Wrapped in this honest question we discover hesitancy in Joshua — a peek inside his thought life — and a need for reassurance. Such an honest question, but it makes me believe Joshua isn’t walking in complete confidence and assurance. If he were, he wouldn’t have asked. But he did.
This is where we assume that, of course, God’s presence will answer, “Joshua, I am with you, for you and on your side!”
But we would assume wrong.
When asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” the presence of God replies, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua falls face down in humility and reverence — asking what message the Lord has for him, His servant. (Joshua 5:14b)
I wonder what kind of message Joshua was expecting, even longing for. Perhaps one overflowing with war strategy and tactics. But instead of detailed plans, Joshua receives a call to worship. He’s told to remove his sandals, for the ground is holy. (Joshua 5:15)
It’s an invitation and a reminder for Joshua to worship the One who’s not only big enough to handle the impending battle, but also loving enough to address the doubt, fear and insecurity running through Joshua’s mind. And as Joshua slips off his sandals, I’m reminded of what I need in the face of my own seemingly insurmountable situations: I need to worry less and worship more …
When I’m desperate for God to give me all the details …
When I’m wishing He would give me the tiniest peek at His plans …
When I’m starting to wonder if He’s for me or against me …
I need to pause, lift my eyes to the One willing to meet me in the midst of my fears, and worship Him. Worshiping not only because it honors Him, but because it also changes me.
Worship might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we feel overwhelmed, but it truly is powerful. It reminds our trembling hearts and shaky knees that our God is mighty, our God is loving and our God is a more-than-able God. It both quiets us and strengthens us — perfectly preparing our hearts and minds for whatever battles lie ahead.
I don’t know what “walls” you’re facing in your life right now, friend. I don’t know how overwhelming and daunting they seem. But I do know the perfect battle plan for each and every one of us.
Worry less. Worship more. And trust our God to lead us into victory.
Father God, thank You for reminding me that the best way to prepare my heart and mind for battle is to simply and humbly worship You. So today, as I lay my fears down at Your feet, I lift my hands up to You in worship. You are worthy of my trust. You are worthy of my praise. Today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 29:2, “Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (NLT)
God wants to thoroughly equip us with His Word for every battle we will face in this life. But do you ever struggle with making connections between Scripture and your own personal struggles? You’re not alone. Join Lysa TerKeurst for one of “The Word Alive” two-day events, and discover how to connect more deeply to God as you read His Word with more understanding and sense Him speaking personally to you. You can purchase your tickets here today.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Spend some time listening to your favorite worship album today. Let it stir praise in your heart for God, and lift your thoughts to a place where worry can no longer reach you.
© 2017 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.