This article was first published on our church website
“When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken.” (v1)
We live in days when self-fulfilment, achievement and success are powerful motivators. We are told to make our lives matter. We are encouraged to feel like we’ve moved the dial, made a difference and changed things (hopefully for good). However, there is a danger caught up in this heady cocktail: we can start to believe that we are irreplaceable! Or putting it more bluntly, that the world around us needs us.
However, here in chapter 13, when the story of Joshua feels like it is only just getting going, we read that he’s no longer the new boy on the block, he’s not even a man in his prime. No, we’re told that he’s very old and yet the mission is far from complete! In fact, this mission that God had given to Moses and then Joshua, was going to take another generation to complete (although you could argue that they never actually completed the mission).
With Joshua’s walking stick, and arthritic hands and failing eyesight, we can learn a huge and humbling lesson: friends, we’re no different! God’s mission is way bigger than we are! His mission will always outstrip our abilities and our lifespan. Why is this so important for us to grasp?
- It will lead you to love the body of Christ (the church) because it is through the church (and not me) that his mission will be furthered.
- It will lead you to love the next generation because God’s mission is going to outlast you and we need to do all that we can to raise up the next generation to serve God’s purposes.
- It will lead us to humbly and joyfully to accept our small part in God’s cosmic mission for the redemption of men and women from every tribe and tongue and the creation of new humanity! Yes, our small part!
- It will lead us to not take ourselves so seriously. Christians can get really intense really quickly (I know I’m probably the kettle calling the pot black), but when we see the vastness of the mission and the smallness of our part in it, we can relax a little and enjoy the journey with those God has called us to serve alongside.
- Finally, we can learn to cherish the saving work of Jesus and not try to become a mini saviour for those around us! He really is a wonderful saviour!
Father God, in your great harvest-field, save me from seeing myself as irreplaceable. Instead, let me cherish and rejoice in the saving power of Christ and his missionary purposes that are outworked through the church. Amen