A Brief Reprieve

I heard the hum of katydids announcing their return for the first time a couple of weeks ago and though the suns’ shadows haven’t seemed to lengthen yet, I’ve noticed that the Japanese anemones have begun to bloom as well. I feel the tipping point of summer beginning to spill over…into what comes next. Within a few weeks time scholars will head back to their books. Farmers will bring in later crops and try to squeeze in that last cutting of hay. Fall will descend with it’s cooler temps and it’s change of pace.

Late summer. Can it be? I remember these nights from years ago when I was still in school. I treasured the last of my summer break before heading back to the books. The cool nights when the dew was a bit heavier and I could just stare up at the sky and watch meteor showers with wonder. Sometimes with friends. Sometimes in solitude. Always with the future on my mind.

While much has changed in these almost thirty years since my school days, there are those thoughts that remain the same. I still sense the seasons with intensity and still wish I could read into my own future as easily as I can predict the katydids return.

Summer. Here in our northern Midwest region it lasts about a full quarter of the year. I guess that’s a fair amount of time compared to other areas. It still seems to go so quickly. It reminds me of the prime of life in many ways. There is much we plan to do only to find time quickly gone. It’s not too late, but you’d better re-evaluate what exactly you’d like to accomplish as the days grow shorter.

How important is that camping trip? Those memories? The things you said you wanted to do …..

So my daughter, my youngest son, and I have spent the last couple of nights at Bay City State Recreation area on Michigan’s Eastern coastline. Saginaw Bay lacks the clear clean shore of the open lakes, but it has other features we sure have enjoyed. The sound of endless waves rolling in is the same. My favorite.

There are bountiful trails to enjoy. Wildlife abounds here too. Tobico Marsh is home to many bird species, beaver, and fish that my son has enjoyed trying to catch. We’ve spent hours hiking, enjoying the bay, and waiting for that one “bite” the would land a big fish. It has been a nice couple of needed days.

As I walked the shoreline last night I watched a family of eight enjoying the roll of the waves. They jumped, ran, giggled, played…then I overheard one of the youngest begin to complain a bit over something. The dad asked if he’d rather go home and do chores? This brought a big smile to my face and apparently I was close enough that he noticed. So I spoke up. “No. I’d rather not be at home doing the chores”. Laughter. He then acknowledged the hat I was wearing…Farm Girl. I guess that gave it away. He even knew where I’d bought it. His daughter owns the same one. Obviously we shared a common bond. Of course I’d felt drawn to this crew from the moment I’d noticed them. My kind of people. When you do get a chance to get away from the pull of rural life you just make sure to enjoy it. And they were.

Today we’ve packed up to head home. It was short lived, but I’ve got beans to can. Something about that chance encounter breathed some fresh life into me. I can go back reassured that I’m not the only country bumpkin who wishes to return to the rural life.

Let Freedom Ring

This fourth of July weekend I see things trying to get back to some semblance of “normalcy”…there are fireworks displays, parades, gatherings, and people everywhere. Underneath it all it things are still very off kilter, but I’m happy to see flares in the sky and hear the rumbles in the distance.

I could go on about the state of the world. The good and the bad. There is much that should be said. As I sit here in my grandma’s kitchen it all becomes a temporary blur. She is on the phone talking to her sister. I am not trying to eavesdrop. Her last remaining sister lost her husband this week. A path my sweet grandmother has already walked, she is able to shed light and knowledge on this new circumstance of life. How does one continue on without the person you’ve spent the majority of your life with? You just do. Like this last year of craziness and losses, you press in and on.

As their conversation continued, and I tried to focus elsewhere, I happened upon the realization that I was privy to something rare and beautiful. Two remaining sisters, each having reached milestones and markers in life that most do not, sat talking about the future. What now? As one poured herself out the other listened offering support. They have each other. While there is a decade between them, together they contain a century of experiences and memories. After the phone was hung up grandma shared with me that a visit was in the works for the two of them to talk about that issue…”what now?” Little sis will glean from the elder intimate details of losses and hope for future gains yet to be had.

I’ve since gone home, then joined couple of my kids and husband for a fireworks display at dusk. Sleep evades me as thoughts explode like the ramparts in the sky.

To live lives like my grandma and great aunt; this is what battles have been fought over. Independence. Freedom to live a century in relative peace. Oh they have had plenty of wars and much division in their time. Read your history from 1920 to 2020. A bigger picture to live outside ones self also existed during most of this century. God.Family.Country. This priority list brought peace despite conflict. We fought government control by seeking God’s control first. It is what we were founded on. That is what made this nation unique in it’s greatness.

We stand on the brink of loss because we cannot see the beauty of what we have or the cost of what we’ve laid down. There is a price being paid for our current state of self absorbed existence. I do not mean that we are to give up self, our identity, for country (communism, socialism ….most other ism’s) I mean the ability to see we are not entities unto ourselves. If our divisions will be bridged it must be because we have equality, balance, wisdom, strength in God alone. He is the Great equalizer.

This is why, though we are regaining some facade of normalcy, I still feel the underlying unease that not all is well. Until the rotten core is exposed it doesn’t matter how we try to patch up or polish the exterior appearance. If I want to see 100 like the ladies before me….if I want my kids and grandkids to not succumb to the mind numbing insanity we are calling freedom right now….then we need to not just spend time on our knees praying, we need to be the ones God uses as voices of what is right. I’ve not read a single Biblical account where the battle fought in spirit was not met with some action as well.

After writing that paragraph I took a moment to read my morning devotions and today they began in the book of Jeremiah. How timely. He was called before birth..(may I plead against abortion at this juncture as well)…to stand up against some nations and make a stand of support for others. Whether or not a nation was to succeed was based solely on their decision to exist for God or against Him.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”
Jeremiah 1:5‭-‬10 NLT

Every generation has a time to choose. My grandparents generation as a whole stood for righteousness on many occasions. My parents generation, sadly, let quite a bit slip. What will ours do? How about our children’s? Will they continue to celebrate old age treasuring each other until the separation of death? Will they watch fireworks displays with pride or take them for granted and let them be taken away (like our Mt. Rushmore celebration)? Or celebrate athletes who show disdain for all that’s been won through history for their arrogant status. (Too many to mention here)?????

If we want to continue on in our “freedoms” we must look at how we attained them in the first place. They were not just given. We cannot just expect them. From sea to shining sea people have got to grow some brain cells, a voice box, legs to stand on, and then use every one of these God given things to say no.

Other countries, like Australia and Canada for example, are actually threatening freedom at the cost of mandatory vaccination. Will we let our land go that far “for the greater good”, or will we put a stake in the ground to maintain the freedoms of choice on so many levels?

So many questions to ponder. How are we going to answer them? I want to sit on the phone with someone in about 50 years pondering a good life mostly behind me. A life filled with freedoms and choices, not demands. The only demands I honor are those made by God Himself.

The Joys of June

Of all of the months of the year, this one may be my favorite. Oh wait, I may also have said that about May. Both rank right up there. Where first blooms fill my imagination at the beginning of May, they come to full bloom filling my vases in June.

June in southern Michigan also brings kittens. Thirteen of them for us this year. They are not a favorite for a couple of the men here, but those of us who can’t resist the little furballs have enjoyed their arrival. We cannot keep them all…

….word on the farm is that we already have too many animals.

Another June activity around here has been garden planting. Yes, it should have been done in May. With the recent heat we have been quick to catch up. The garden is a bit more limited this time around. I’ve opted only for the basics: sweet corn, tomatoes, summer squash, some pumpkins, green beans in raised beds, as well as cukes, and peas. These are what we love to eat fresh and what we cannot I put away in jars for winter. I used to grow more…I’m over that.

It’s strawberry season as well. I was gifted several years ago with just a few plants and now they have occupied the whole west side of our barn. For the last five days I’ve picked a quart. Shortcake, fresh ice cream, and loose nibbles are the first tastes of produce this late spring. Next will be some jam.

Amidst all of this we’ve had birthdays to celebrate, visitors to host, and work to juggle with play. Thank goodness our last day of school was a couple of weeks ago. I had envisioned a quiet morning book in hand, a coffee in the other, to celebrate the end of the school year. It hasn’t happened yet.

What has happened is life. Good life. I find my time hanging laundry on the line, petting kittens, picking strawberries, all great opportunities to speak to God who created all these moments. That’s right. In the middle of June and all it holds is always the perfect time to be thankful for the first half of the year, and the other half yet to come. Whatever the summer holds I plan to find these blips of time and use them well.

Happy beginning of summer 2021!!!!!

The Goodness of God Watch “Goodness Of God (Lyrics) ~ Bethel Music” on YouTube

This morning this song was running through my head before I even crawled out of bed. It continued to play as I went outside to do the morning chores. I didn’t think much of it…just sang.

Let me tell you..it’s true. God’s goodness never fails. It’s running after us. It is constant, whether we see it or not. To those who conscientiously choose to serve Him; the benefits are even greater. There is a reason I pray Psalms 91 over our household most mornings. It reminds me of His promises to us. I have a constant hope and reassurance that no matter what happens around me, I am held.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord : He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalms 91:1‭-‬16 NLT

I begin this post this way today because the last couple of weeks have given us opportunity to see firsthand the protection and provision of God.

A couple of weeks ago my husband, who is an independent building contractor, faced the task of setting the largest wooden trusses he and his crew have ever handled. I do not exaggerate. These things are huge. For those reading who may not know what I’m referring to, these are the structures placed on top of the walls which will hold the roof. Typically they are triangular in shape. They must be lifted, placed evenly, and adequately fastened one at a time the whole length of the structure in the case of this barn.

As the day approached to take on this task I had a heaviness, a wariness, resting on me. It could have turned into fear, but I kept lifting this whole thing up in prayer each time it came to mind. I know God holds our lives and well being.

The day the crane arrived to set these trusses my in-laws picked my youngest son and I up and we made the trip to the job site just to watch. It’s not everyday we get to see a crane swing feet upon feet of wooden structure through the air to each ones resting place high upon the walls. Once heavily secured, the team works in tandem, a dance almost, to get another one hoisted and do the same. They made it look easy. I breathed a little lighter, but still mumbled prayers as we drove off after about an hour or so, leaving them to their task. They had so many more to do.

As we headed home it was impossible not to notice the clouds on the horizon. This is not what they needed. The forecasts slim chance of rain decided to materialize. Our home is about thirty minutes south and west of the job site, so it hit here first. Not much wind, but short lived hail and rain hit us pretty good. Once again I lifted a prayer for the safety of the crew as I sent a text off to my husband. I could see the storm split in two…one half headed southeast and the other northeast-directly toward that barn. He called me, I reassured him there hadn’t been too much wind. It should be okay?

As their horizon also darkened they decided to play it safe and shut down much earlier than they would have otherwise. Everyone headed for home, but before reaching it a phonecall came to say winds had taken down the trusses. Only a short time after their departure those trusses had become twisted, broken, falling pieces of wood. On one hand it was devastating news. On the other, they hadn’t been there. Nothing was harmed that couldn’t be replaced.

The first miracle was that still small warning…and we all heeded it. I prayed, they left.

The next miracle is that within two weeks time the insurance claim has been settled and paid out so work could rapidly resume. Anyone dealt with insurance companies before? This is a quick turnaround for such a large claim.

So today was truss day attempt number two. I still had reservations. We prayed this morning as always. And that song….it played on repeat in my head. God would watch over them all.

Miracle number three: Shortly after lunch time today I got a phone call. My husband. Had I heard what happened? Um no. During the resumed dance of placing a truss a coworker “just happened to see” the cable on the crane fraying. That’s right. Before his eyes the cable that held thousands of pounds was fraying. I shudder to think what catastrophe was once again avoided. Crises averted yet again. I see it only as the Divine Hand of protection over these men, despite the adversity obviously attempting to stall the construction of this barn, or harm those involved.

I’m not sure when truss day number three will happen, but when it does I will be on my knees confident my prayer is heard in heaven. I praise Him in thankfulness.

Some of the salvaged pieces that stood for only a short amount of time

Better Than New

In 2008, two weeks before Christmas, we made the move into this home. Days and nights of hard work lasting for over a month and a half had brought us to the point where this old place was somewhat remodeled and ready for our comfort. What had been left unfinished would be a work in progress. All houses are works in progress I suppose. From little fixes and basic upkeep to roof maintenance and large repairs it seems there is always something on the “to do” list.

I hadn’t imagined the largest item left unfinished would remain so for almost another twelve years. If I had only known I’m sure that I would’ve pressed harder for our kitchen to be finished before moving day. As it was, wallpapering was being done by family members at the same time boxes were being moved in and shuffled to various locations. The cupboards were painted and clean. The table set up. Wallpaper was crisp and new. The two different floors that met in the middle were left unfinished..but we’d get to that.

Fast forward through the birth of our last son, three graduations, many other home projects and alot of life. Each year began with the question in the back of my mind of whether or not we’d get the floor done by December 31. Each year the answer was a resounding no. Something else would come up. Legitimate, pressing things, would take it’s place. And so, at the end of 2019, when most of our appliances took a dump at almost the same time, we decided to replace them in one fell swoop. At least we had new matching stainless steel appliances to brighten our mismatched broken floor and now peeling wallpaper. Then 2020. There is nothing more to say about that. Dawn 2021- and the government’s desire to pass out stimulus money like candy. Fine. Thank you for the reality of an oak floor that will now outlast the span of many presidents to come.

Half of this kitchen floor was original to the best of our knowledge. That means the tight growth rings of white oak from 1886 have seen quite a lifespan here already. They are nearly impossible to replicate and the 2″ width isn’t even factory made anymore. Despite the fact that half of the floor would show minor differences it was our feeling that the old floor had to be kept. Truthfully, the richness of it’s age brought out by a good sanding and a few coats of polyurethane makes it outshine the new wood. Years of wear have worn deep into the layers. It will take just as many for the new portion to catch up.

The nasty linoleum which covered half of the floor where an old entry had been.
Ripping it out! A thousand nails held it down. The old isn’t always easily removed…it can take effort.
Refinished old oak. The picture doesn’t do it justice.
Here is the new oak. Similar in color and size, but lacking every ounce of character the other side has developed over 100 years time.

My heart sees many lessons in this. Namely, the beauty that time and life can bring. I say can.

Even though scrapes, spills, rough wear, and little upkeep left the wood ugly and dirty.. to the point that some of it was splintering…it was always our desire to refinish it. Bring it back to life. Leave it shining. Some of the scars are still visible, but they’ve been cared for and ultimately add beauty to the finished work. Other marks were gently sanded and sanded again until they faded to extinction.

Here’s where the word “can” comes in. Oh when we let the master carpenter, the chief architect, the finisher of our story go to work He will take our rough dirty lives and transform them into shining examples of His handiwork. He longs to ‘refinish’ us. If we will let Him sand us, polish away the wounds, take care of our scars, and cover it all with a coating that stands the test of time: His blood. Rather than looking like old split wood, rough with wear, He wants to restore to beauty.

Through all of the life that has occurred in my waiting maybe this project holds a correct focus for me now that it might not have had those years ago. I have a deeper appreciation for the parallels an old floor holds. New is beautiful. Old refinished character cannot be rushed or replicated. This Easter embrace Jesus who sacrificed everything to recreate you. On a tree of His own making He took every one of our flaws with the hope we would allow Him to refinish us. Make us complete. Finally finished.

The old and new blend into one finished floor.

Quality Time

I write to you today from a lawn chair. Outside. On February 28th, in Michigan. I’m seizing this afternoon because, let’s face it, this simply won’t last. Don’t be fooled. Spring is not here. For the moment though I can close my eyes and bask in the sunshine while listening to the songs of our arrivals: robins and red wing blackbirds are once again perched on the fence posts.

If I wasn’t afraid of getting shot I would’ve wandered to the woods with my boys this afternoon. They are squirrel hunting. They are very safe with their guns, but I’m the one who loves to wander freely. I’d be the hazard. The snow is most likely still clinging to the ground out there for now. In a matter of weeks it’ll match the rest of our March mud. I may have to make another opportunity in the near future.

The pendulum of warm/cold, snow/rain, freeze/thaw has begun to swing and will not be fully tipped to spring until maybe mid April at best. In the duration I’m ever so grateful for my sun porch which catches the unpredictable chilly rays turning them into greenhouse warmth. I could be basking there instead too. That was where I was headed when my husband asked if I could join him outside.

His current chore? Rotating his tires. This is shoulder to shoulder time. We don’t say all that much. I’m writing. He’s working. He asked me to be here. So I am. It would seem that I am accomplishing nothing. He’s working and I’m just sitting here. In the background noise of an impact wrench there’s probably more being said than either of us know..

If us women could just let the silence do the talking sometimes we’d be farther ahead. It’s taken me almost 28 years of marriage and three sons to embrace these moments.

In general, men don’t communicate through speech. Oh, they talk, but some of the most important conversations are held without saying a word.

Sure, all relationships are different. There are many personality blends and types. What works for us may not work for the next couple. Not everyone considers tire rotation a quality date. However, mutual respect and communication on a deeper level are always a must no matter how you slice it.

And so today as I sit in the warmer winds breath I thank God for my boys who are shoulder to shoulder out in the woods; for my husband and I shoulder to shoulder on the carport pad; and for my daughter…whom I will chat it up with later. I will get my “girl time” in with her.😉

All My Valentine’s

I began blogging in 2016, and each year since I’ve told about our household Valentine gift exchange. The tradition has become dear to my heart, especially since I know the older these kids get the fewer years I will have this opportunity. This year I was uncertain of the level of participation, sensing an adolescent boy and two adult children still at home may be less than excited to join in my excitement. To my surprise all willingly drew a name a few weeks ago. The secret planning for our little party commenced right away.

During the doldrums of winter it never hurts to stir up the creative juices. Covid was just beginning to be a thing at this time last year so our planning was a good diversion. This year, though this world and it’s issues keep spinning, it felt like unity in our home has been preserved through it all. Joy and laughter is still found here…though it is sometimes at each other’s expense.

Gifts of toilet paper with unique messages, a sucker filled card which at first reads “you suck”…(until you see the fine print to understand it really says “without YOU my life would really SUCK”), and a belly button lint remover graced our kitchen.

A mock up of a lime green Jeep was created by my youngest for his sister. He even installed working headlights.

I drew his name and created a fun tackle box full of treats that will be long gone before spring fishing begins. This time of year holds visions of fishing poles and warm sunshine for him. I thought I’d make good on that.

My name was drawn by my husband, who knows my love for gardening and flowers. He made a nice trellised raised bed for me to plant come spring. I have a few months to plan exactly how I want it to grow. Envisioning cascading vines mixed with vibrant blooms is food for my soul. He loves me well.

As always, the roots of all of this are planted in the fact that we are first loved by God. Made in His image we reflect the love He so lavishly offers us. To my core I adore showing and seeing this love translated in small gifts of creativity each Valentine’s Day. Even when they move away I know this ritual will have been imbedded in them. I pray they never forget the source of every outward display.

Timely Words

Words are powerful. Words create. Words warn. Words comfort. Words give direction and wisdom.

Back at the end of September, during a time of prayer, words began to flow to my pen. I had been talking to God about many things that day. Personal things, the physical and spiritual health of our nation and churches, and the upcoming election, to name a few. Usually when a “download” comes, (I have no better way to say it I suppose), I just write it in my notebook and visit it from time to time as it seems important. That is what I did with these words…until now. A couple of weeks ago as I filtered through my notes I happened upon them again and they have refused to leave my thoughts. They feel heavy. Weighted. Important.

I could not have known in September what would transpire in our nation, our world, between then and now. And I feel we are only at the beginnings. So as I’ve meditated on these lines I’ve asked what to do with them. Not everything is meant to be shared. We are responsible for what we say, and also for what we do not. There is a responsibility in this that I take seriously.

As you read take hold of the encouragement given. Come what may I believe this is a now word for this season.

For such a time as this
I call My chosen out.

Rend your hearts and hear My voice.

Shut all other noises out.

The time has come.
It has begun. The nation’s will arise
In upheaval-it all looks evil, but what you see are lies.

I hold the keys to sin, death, and grave.
In Me flows a whole new wave.

I come with strength, power, and might.

Enemy plans will turn in flight.

Hold fast to what you know.
Embrace My heavenly overflow.
Into the future you will go
Emblazoned with power and might,
Because around you is not your fight-
But Mine.

Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says God of the Angel Armies

I fight for you and with you.
I am all around you.

Stand firm. Stand tall.
With Me you will not fall.
You will not fail.
I have set you upon a blazoned trail.

What does this mean? Do you not know?
I am with you wherever you go.

Falling Walls

It has been a full two weeks since the dawn of 2021. During this time I’ve been chewing on a portion of scripture repeatedly; looking at it from different angles and asking how it applies to our own moment in time.

Because I believe it does.

At the end of each year I ask God for a tidbit of what’s to come: A morsel of wisdom and insight for the days ahead. It has never failed that the words and scriptures He has laid on my heart in December are fully ingrained throughout the following year.

I won’t lie. This year I asked with a level of trepidation. “What are you saying right now? What do you want me to hear for this coming year?” It wasn’t until almost the final hours of 2020 that the story of Joshua began to replay in my head. I mean, like I couldn’t get rid of it. I still can’t. I’ve revisited his account before with you, but this time I feel an urgency in my Spirit that I have only just begun to put a finger on.

From Exodus throughout the book of Numbers we see the Israelites journey from Egypt to the banks of the Jordan River. It is here that they are told to cross and take Canaan. The Promised Land. Instead, the Israelites halt here and begin a forty year trip around the wilderness. Why? We clearly see in Deuteronomy 1 why an eleven day journey takes 40 years.

“Behold, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has said to you. Fear not, neither be dismayed. Then you all came near to me and said, Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us and bring us word again by what way we should go up and the cities into which we shall come. The thing pleased me well, and I took twelve men of you, one for each tribe. And they turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshcol and spied it out. And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God gives us. Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God. You were peevish and discontented in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, He brought us forth out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us. To what are we going up? Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, The people are bigger and taller than we are; the cities are great and fortified to the heavens. And moreover we have seen the [giantlike] sons of the Anakim there. Then I said to you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The Lord your God Who goes before you, He will fight for you just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, And in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God bore you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place. Yet in spite of this word you did not believe (trust, rely on, and remain steadfast to) the Lord your God, Who went in the way before you to search out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, and in the cloud by day. And the Lord heard your words, and was angered and He swore, Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land which I swore to give to your fathers, Except [Joshua, of course, and] Caleb son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land upon which he has walked, because he has wholly followed the Lord.
Deuteronomy 1:21‭-‬36 AMPC

I’ve heard it preached many times that this group wandered because they needed to be taught, strengthened, and stretched. I submit to you the idea that they were rebellious and disobedient. So while they did need these things; it wasn’t God’s doing. It was theirs. I see a passage of scripture that gives a command to boldly go. They would not. Only Joshua and Caleb were willing. Here’s where Joshua’s story really begins. While an entire generation pays the price of rebellion, dying without seeing the land of promise, Joshua and Caleb are spared and given entry because they alone believed. Sometimes we can be held back by the company we keep…not due to our failure. Delay can come from the lack of faith of those around us. Joshua and Caleb chose to see the goodness of the land while ten others reported the impossibilities of the situation. Ten spies reported giants and thick impenetrable walls. Joshua and Caleb were eager to obey….imagine their thoughts as they were outvoted. They wanted to move forward into the promises of God.

The book of Joshua begins with the passing of Moses. Every promise God had given to Moses, to Israel, has now been placed in Joshua’s willing and capable hands. God had not forgotten him. Once again the words “be strong and courageous” are repeated. The keys to success are still held in obedience. Complete and total obedience are required. Reading through these opening chapters I see explicit instructions that require a surrendered people’s compliance.

The second chapter shows us the second spy mission. Only two men go this time rather than the twelve so many years before. This time they find a city that is terrified of Israel’s God. Had they obeyed long before they would have discovered that the mighty city of Jericho had been fearful ever since the Red Sea crossing. God had given them the city the first time they sat on the banks of the Jordan. They just refused to take it. What things has God placed in our hands that we don’t have only because we refuse to take them?

And who does God use to relay this valuable information? A lying prostitute named Rahab. In return for her protection of the two spies from Jericho’s city officials, her and her family are spared when the walls come down. She is placed in the lineage of Jesus himself. Never underestimate who God will use to intervene in a situation on your behalf.

Chapter three finds us at the overflowing banks of the Jordan. It’s harvest time. Have you heard this being said recently? It is time for harvest. Of course this is when it is impossible by human means to “cross over”. By following the priests, the Ark of the Covenant, and dipping their feet into the depths of the river they were able to pass over on dry land.

Verses 3-9 from Joshua chapter four speak to me as well. Here they are instructed to take 12 stones of remembrance “from the place where the priests stood firm” and leave them where they camp that night. These stones were for future generations to see. To know. God had been faithful in all that He’d promised. They’d crossed over. He is mighty and to be revered forever. What has He promised in this hour that we are to trust? What stones of remembrance can we place on the other side of deep waters for our children to see?

Joshua five brings the circumcision of every Israelite male. The new generation raised in the wilderness had never been physically consecrated to God. This had to be done before they could fully enter into the land. This happens, not coincidentally, at Passover. Then they ate the good of the land. It was long awaited for holy ground.

Chapter six is where I am currently abiding. This mighty, but terrified, city isn’t taken at first by a natural battle. It is taken in a lap of obedient silenced voices as 40,000 men of war lead the priests and the Ark. The only noise is that of thousands of marching feet combined with the priests trumpet blasts. I close my eyes and imagine the sound of God at work for six days straight. On the seventh day six of these laps are followed by a seventh, this is when shouts bring down the heavily fortified city walls. God falls the walls, but each man has the responsibility to go over the fallen debris to complete the victory. In the children’s version of this story this part is seldom told. God didn’t do it all. They had to iradicate Jericho.

I am left here to question. When the walls finally fall, what do I have to annihilate? Ultimately, faith requires action. What can I not leave standing in 2021?