‘And I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’ (Joshua 24:13)
Shortly before Joshua died, he gathered the elders, judges and officers of Israel to him, and through him, God spoke to Israel, and reminded them of their history, all the way from Abraham. (Joshua 24:1-13)
I love the fact that God, in first person, recounted the highlights of their journey with Him. He made it clear that He, and He alone, had cleared the way for them in miraculous ways:
‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out…’
‘But when they cried out to the Lord, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them and covered them; and your own eyes saw what I did…’
‘…and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand…’
‘But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand.’
‘Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow.’
‘And I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built…’
God did not say these things to brag about Himself, but rather to remind them that He was with them, every step of the way. He did miraculous things for them, time and time again. He was faithful. Sometimes I think the word “faithful,” when applied to God, should always look like this: FAITHFUL, because you can’t possibly put enough emphasis behind it.
We, too, need to look back over our lives, on a regular basis, and recount all that God has done. Because when we remember how FAITHFUL He has been in our past, we can know, with absolute certainty, that He is FAITHFUL today, and He will be FAITHFUL in our future. It’s easy to look at our present struggles or challenges, and wonder, will He come through again, or do I have to handle this one myself?
The answer is unequivocally yes, He will come through for you, again and again and again. But here’s the little caveat: you must cling to Him with everything you’ve got. There’s that word again, from my previous blog. And interestingly, I found it again while reading through Joshua for this blog:
“But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” (Joshua 23:8)
I have found that looking back over my life on a regular basis, not only strengthens my faith and my confidence in Him, but it also elicits praise. Not so long ago, I didn’t know how to praise Him. Really. I always felt stilted, forced, because I knew it was something I was supposed to do. But then I asked Him to teach me to praise Him, and now, honestly, it’s my favorite form of prayer. And much of it stems from looking back and remembering all that He has done in my life.
Nearly every day, I sit down in my prayer chair, and I look around at my living room, in my sweet house that I so love, and I say, “Lord, I know I’ve said this to you nearly every day I’ve been here, and I hope You’re not tired of hearing it, but thank you so much.” And this morning, after reading Joshua, I said, “You know Lord, you took me out of Egypt, and into the wilderness for a time (not 40 years, thank goodness), and now we have arrived at Canaan. And you have given me the most amazing inheritance.”
Believe me, I’ve been in Egypt. I had my mother, father, brother and grandmother all die in the span of 8 years. In the middle of those deaths, after the death of my father, whom I had watched die slowly from Parkinson’s disease, I went into the pit. I had a breakdown of sorts…I couldn’t eat for months, had no energy, spent most of my time in bed and lost a lot of weight. I was trembling 24/7. But God reached down and spoke to my heart, and pulled me out of the pit. He strengthened me to face my brother’s death 2 years later, and then, a little over a year later, my grandmother’s death…the last of my immediate family. With all of my family of origin in heaven at the relatively young age of 49, (my grandma died on my birthday) I became an orphan. Shortly after the death of my grandmother, my husband began to distance himself, and the death of my marriage began to occur. So when I say I’ve been to Egypt, I mean it. But my God was there, every step of the way. And He set this captive free.
We all have our Egypt. But if we cling to our God, we will also have our Canaan.
So if looking ahead is uncertain or frightening, then look back. Recount all the times that God brought you through challenging, painful or frightening situations. Remember the miraculous moments. He was most certainly in your past, and He is FAITHFUL for your future.