Thursday, March 3, 2011

Promises, Promises

I’ve been thinking about promises lately.  Remember the excitement of a promise given?  Perhaps as a child it’s a trip to the zoo.  A few years down the road, it’s the hope of a new car and later, with tears of joy and warm fuzzies inside, those words we all long to hear – “I do”. 
Ahh… the promise fulfilled!  Or is it?
Unfortunately, sometimes it rains at the zoo and the lion you came to see is “sitting just over that hill” – completely out of sight.  The “new” car was actually new the same year you were, and more often than not the “I do’s” become “I don’ts”.
Promises, promises.
Moments of sheer excitement and expectation, followed by utter disappointment and despair.  How can standing on the cusp of what is sure to be the fulfillment of your dreams so quickly find you crushed – face down in the dirt – hopeless. 
Let down.
Joshua had one of those days.  The excitement had to have been contagious.  After years and years… and years of waiting for the promise to be fulfilled, they had arrived!  God had promised the Israelites this land and here they stood – ready to claim what was theirs – The Promised Land! 
Were the Israelites dreaming of ‘home sweet home’?  Were they making plans for birthday parties, spa days and golf tournaments?  After forty years in the wilderness, I can only imagine the joy of claiming the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey!  Dreams of hammocks, new furniture, soft music and cool breezes all around! 
But the dust had hardly settled from the walls of Jericho, when another much smaller battle had to be fought.  After such a huge accomplishment of claiming their promise, the Israelites had no concerns for removing this pesky little town just down the road.  But to their amazement, they lost the battle.
That’s when Joshua crumbled.  “Why God?  Why did you bring us here?  To make us victims?  To wipe us out?” All dreams of what might have been vanished as Joshua rolled in the dirt and ripped his clothes. 
That’s feeling pretty low!
I find myself looking back over my life and wonder how many times I gave up too quickly.  How many times have I received a promise, but turned and walked away - leaving the promise for someone else to claim – simply because it didn’t meet my expectations?  But I’m learning from watching Joshua’s life. 
God told Joshua to get back up.  It was time to be strong.  To find courage!  The promise was still theirs – problem was, there were enemies who weren’t interested in walking away without a fight.  Joshua kept his eyes on God and set out to remove the threats.   He listened to God and soon the greatest powers around him were under his feet – literally (Joshua 10:24).
There are enemies all around us – and they want what is ours.  They want our spouses… our children… our health… our peace… our joy…  the list goes on and on. 
If you find yourself sniffing dirt today because you think God has forgotten you - stand up!  Take courage!  Be strong!  The enemy may have stolen something from you, but the God who broke down the walls of Jericho is the same God who gave you those good gifts. 
If your marriage is crumbling right now– fight for it!  If your children have wandered away from all you’ve taught them– take courage and rest in God alone!  If peace eludes you both day and night – claim the peace that only He can give! 
Joshua had the courage to stand up, dust himself off and get back into the battle.  Will you?

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