Editor’s Note: Every Thursday for the past two years, Kathleen Harwood has played a huge role in getting UFC women into God’s Word, gathering them together for Bible study. Kathleen’s passion for God’s Word is infectious as she teaches women, writes studies, and trains leaders. Today in our Daily Joy post, she shares how God’s Word does not come back void, how it bears fruit in our lives, especially during such a time as this.
By Kathleen Harwood
Soon after we got married, my husband Mike signed us up to be leaders on a multi-state, youth bike trip for the high school group at our church. It sounded like a great opportunity to begin ministering and serving together to the students in our congregation. The trip was to begin in McLean, Virginia, and end at the beach in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Then it dawned on me. This trip required that we ride a bike 6 to 8 hours a day for 5 days, sleeping at night in campgrounds along the way. Mike was part of the youth staff and had gone on this summer trip many times. I, however, had not. In fact, I don’t know if I’d even ridden my bike farther than a mile or two to get ice cream on a sunny day! I was not going to survive this trip unless I started training. Right. Now.
So, with Mike’s help, that’s what I did. The first day out was fun. We went a few miles, and I thought, “I’ve got this!” But by the fourth day, I was sore in places I didn’t know I could be sore, and we weren’t anywhere near the 50 to 70 mile per day mark the trip demanded. Thankfully, Mike was patient and encouraging, and after much training, I was ready to successfully go on the adventure, to minister to the high school students, to do the work planned.
Today, you and I are facing an “adventure” down a long road we have never traveled before. But here’s the good news: We’ve already been training for this! As you and I have spent time in God’s Word, prayed, and gathered together with the community of believers, we have prepared our muscles for the unknown path ahead. We don’t know exactly what will happen, how it will happen, or when anything will happen. We are in good company. Remember Joshua? In chapter 1, Joshua had lots of unknowns ahead for him and the entire nation. He didn’t know how he was going to successfully navigate this new life for all of them. He didn’t know what obstacles, battles, and terrors awaited him. He didn’t have the blueprint of how to fight the battles when they came. He didn’t even know exactly when it would all begin. But even though Joshua didn’t get the answers to the questions he had, God gave him the truth he needed. And as you saw throughout the book, what God told him right from the start turned out to be what he needed most. And it’s the same for us. Now is the time for us to pull out our “training,” to remember and to live what God has given us. So, I’ll start us off. Here are two things that stand out to me from the first chapter of Joshua:
1. God is powerful and sovereign over all.
God tells Joshua to take his nation of 2 million-plus people over a raging river into a land filled with hostile enemies. Surprisingly, God doesn’t follow up this command by giving Joshua a course in bridge building. He doesn’t give him a manual of battle strategies. Instead, in the very season the river is flooding, when there are violent nations on the other side planning to oppose them, God simply tells Joshua to “cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving them.” This is probably not the way Joshua would pick to start his adventure. This is not what we would pick. We would much prefer a schedule of what is coming and a toolbox of resources to successfully come through whatever happens. Instead, God tells Joshua in 1:6, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” God wants Joshua to be dependent on Him, to look to Him, to obey Him one step at a time. He wants Joshua and the people to put their trust in Him as their God, not in a plan. As you saw in the rest of the book of Joshua, as Joshua looked to God one step at a time, God demonstrated His power and sovereignty over the Jordan River, over the walls around Jericho, over giants, over nations, over nature, over everything!
At this very time when we have no answers, when the flood waters are rising, when we don’t know how to fight the unknown battles that may come, we, too, can begin at the feet of our all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign God. Ask Him to lead you one step at a time.
2. God is present with you always.
In the opening verses of Joshua, God doesn’t just remind Joshua He is powerful and sovereign. God assures Joshua that, as his powerful and sovereign God, he will not have to face any of these scary circumstances alone. At every turn, He will be with him. Listen to what God tells Joshua:
“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you …“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:6b-1:9).
Joshua may have wanted specific answers. I know I do! Instead, God gave him the promise of His presence. Always. No matter what. Not just a solution for the problem of the moment, but His presence forever in every tricky, scary, unimaginable situation he would face going forward.
As we head into these turbulent times, we need to know the promise right here was not only theirs, but is ours, too. This same promise is repeated to us in the New Testament. Hebrews 13:5-6 says,
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?”
We, like Joshua, have the promise of a powerful God who will not depart from us, abandon us, cut us loose. In the days ahead, God may close doors. We may encounter battles or trials or unwanted circumstances. Life wasn’t easy for Joshua. But he had God’s power and presence through both good times and bad times, and so do we. God’s presence is a sure promise to us that He will be with us to continually sustain us, guide us, bring us through.
These are only two quick truths I’m pulling out from our study in Joshua. There are so many more! What do you remember from your “training”? Think back on 1 Peter, Ruth, Joshua and Jude. You have God’s Word in you! I’d love to hear a sentence or two of how God’s truth is sustaining you during these truly unprecedented times. Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and to God be all glory!