Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm afraid my failures matter more than grace

When we choose to live a Christian life we dedicate our life to God. We tell him we will go wherever He sends us, and do whatever He needs us to do. Our hearts are filled with love and joy and we are thrilled to think He might use us one day in this great plan of His. Except Africa. Don’t send me to Africa. And, I want to be married and have children, so if He could work that into His plan that would be great. And this is what happens. We get overwhelmed with all the things we are supposed to do, we limit what we are willing to do, we fall and fail, we do something we should never have done, and we have to face God again. We re-dedicate our lives to Him, and we start all over; first the promises, then the exceptions, then the failing. Or maybe that’s just me.

When I read how Joshua rededicated the Israelites to God this was what I thought of. The many times I have tried to live the perfect life only to fail again are too many to count. I have done it in secret, in public, big, small, quiet, and loud. But always I fail at my goal of being perfect because I have this unattainable idea in my head which I can’t live up to. Usually it comes from comparison.

In order to be a good Christian I need to: pray for 2 hours every morning, keep a list of things I’m grateful for, adopt children, travel to other countries, go on mission trips, feed the homeless, work in the nursery, VBS, and women’s ministry of the church, homeschool my children, and be whatever version of the Proverbs 31 woman is most popular at the time. These things in and of themselves are not bad, but I cannot do it all.

This way of thinking is not as ingrained in my heart as it once was. I have been doing a lot of undoing in my thinking. I am learning from many wise people I find in books, other blogs, and life. I no longer rededicate my life. What I do instead is give each day to God. I work hard to be the best me He created me to be. I make mistakes, and remember I did the best I could at the time. I let it go and am grateful I have learned. I am thankful for the mercies and grace I receive each morning I open my eyes. I work to know God better.

There is certainly a place in our lives for dedication to God. I don’t diminish what Joshua did, or what any of us have done. I simply don’t want people constantly rededicating themselves because they feel like a failure. God knows more than I do how wonderful you are, and He loves you more than you can imagine. Give each day to Him, and let the days past be done.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The fear of failing again.

Joshua 10:8
The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them;
I have given them into your hand.
Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”
{After the destruction of Ai}, Joshua rededicates the nation of Israel to the Lord. I have walked the aisle enough times to know how this feels. He had messed up, but he was sure he would do better from that moment on. As a sign to God and everyone around he made a public profession of his decision.

The problem was, he couldn’t do better. He could only do as well as he could, and that meant messing up again. This time instead of going to war without consulting God, he made a peace treaty without consulting God.

Many times when we find ourselves in a situation where we have gone against God, sometimes we panic and do whatever we can to make things better. Joshua stayed calm. Once he realized the peace treaty was with the Gibeonites, a city just over the hill, he confronted them but kept his commitment. I believe he knew how he behaved would reflect on God just as much as the loss of Ai would. He wanted God’s people to be known as men of their word, even when they mess up. When it came time to defend Gibeon from the surrounding kings I can imagine the emotion that gripped his insides. Yet God told him to go ahead, not to fear the mistake, but to know that no one would stand against Israel.

I do not believe the lesson to learn is we will win any wars we enter, nor that God will accept any treaties we make. The fact is in our everyday life we do not wage war against attacking kings, nor make peace treaties. So, what can we learn from Joshua’s experience and what God told him?

Question 1: God knows we can’t be perfect. He only expects us to do the best we can at the time. Have you ever made a public rededication of your life after a big mistake? What do you do when you find yourself doing the same thing again? Just as each morning is full of God’s mercies, I believe they should also be full of our dedication to God.

Question 2: Sometimes we only think we need to consult God when bad stressful things start happening. God wants to be part of our everyday life. While it may not matter what we eat for breakfast, He certainly wants us to consult Him as we make decisions in our life. When was the last time you consulted God when an opportunity arose, rather than just a challenge?

Dear Heavenly Father
You know my heart better than I
Thank you for your mercy and grace
Thank you for your direction and guidance
Help me please to remember to seek
your direction for my path

Joshua 10:8

The Lord siad to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you." (NIV)  
The Lord siad to Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you." (NAS)  
And the Lord said to Joshua, Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hand' there shall not a man of them stand before you. (Amplified) 
God told him, "Don't give them a second thought. I've put them under your thumb -- not one of them will stand up to you." (The Message)

Backstory - Chapter 8-9

Monday, July 16, 2012

Joshua's Fear

Joshua has just defeated Ai and recommitted Israel to the Lord. The kings in the Promised Land are now on alert as to Israel and what they are capable of. Except the king from Gibeon who chose instead to deceive Joshua and gain a treaty of peace from Joshua. This does not please the other kings, and so they set out to take Gibeon themselves. You can read the back story in Chapters 8-9.

Joshua knew it was not long ago when he had learned his lesson at Ai. Or had he? He didn’t mean to usurp God in the role of leader. Joshua knew he was the go between man, but in the moment of decision he kept forgetting to ask God for direction. The lack of consultation had hurt him the first time in Ai, though there was more to that situation. He wondered what would happen this time.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them;"

“Oh Lord, forgive me. I am trying to do it right, and yet I keep overstepping my boundaries. Will you allow us to save Gibeon even though we shouldn’t even have a peace treaty with them? I know their deception is no excuse for my lack of consultation with You.”

"I have given them into your hand."

“Thank you Lord. I am ready to fight the five kings, but what about the rest? The other kings are joining forces against us as well. Shall we take them all now, or just save Gibeon?”

"Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”

Joshua sat for a moment realizing how great the Lord was, and how merciful. He rose to take the army to Gibeon, and then conquer the other kings who were coming against Israel as well.