If you follow me on social media, then you know that I just had shoulder surgery and that I have spent the last three weeks sporting the ever fashionable Ultrasling III. It is hot, uncomfortable, and annoying. This sling has forced me into a time of little to no control due to its restrictive nature and as a self-acknowledging control freak, I have definitely wrestled with that.
And yet, my family has noticed that in this season of dependency on others to get me places, make my food, and even to get my hair washed, I have been happier than I have ever been!
This girl who finds stability in attempting to control every aspect of her life, is finding herself to be happy as can be as she learns to rest, ask for help, and release control.
You see, once upon a time, not very long ago in fact, I lived to control. I thought that if I kept everyone in my life happy and at peace, then I too would be happy and at peace. I could not have been more wrong. Every group outing, hang out with friends, dinner, holiday, you name it, that required any planning, sent me into an anxious tizzy.
Over the past year in particular, I have been learning to release my expectations of keeping everyone happy and that I do not need to be afraid of not being in control.
It is a simple truth that God is in control and that I am not. I do not have to look back very far in my life to see that played out. So today, I want to explore part of Joshua’s life and how we can use his story as a model for how to trust God and release control.
Joshua 1 opens with God telling Joshua that Moses is dead and that it is now time for Joshua to take over as the leader and bring the Israelites into the promised land. In the blink of an eye, Joshua goes from being Moses’ assistant to the leader of close to one million people. Talk about fear and anxiety producing!
In verses 3 and 4 of chapter 1, God promises to give Joshua all of the land that his people tread on, and more. The Lord has clearly planned out every step for Joshua. Verse 5 says, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”
There was no expectation on Joshua for him to lead the nation of Israel on his own. It was not up to him to keep the people happy. It was his job, however, to walk in obedience to the Lord and lead by example. He could not control the behavior of the Israelites, but he could lead them in the path that God had laid out for them.
God commands Joshua three times in a row to be strong and courageous in the following verses:
- Verse 6: The call to be strong and courageous is so that he can lead the Israelites into their inheritance. Joshua had to embody strength and courage so that it would inspire the Israelites to do the same.
- Verse 7 & 8: Joshua is called to be strong and courageous in the things that the Lord requires of him. He is to obey and follow the law with strength and courage — even if it is hard. God asks of Joshua to be steadfast in his knowledge of the Book of the Law so that he will not depart from obedience, but instead pursue it with strength and courage.
- Verse 9: Arguably one of the most popular verses in the Bible, Joshua 1:9, is where the Lord commands Joshua to be strong and courageous. It goes on to explain why Joshua can be strong and courageous and unafraid — because the Lord will be with him wherever he goes.
Joshua was placed in a daunting position of control. As the leader of the nation of Israel, he could operate out of self-sufficiency and self-dependency, or he could sit in surrender, knowing that the God of angel armies was ever going before him.
And we have that gift too!
Right now, I am in a season of physical dependency on people, but the reality is if I am living a life of surrender, I am always living dependent on God. It is okay for me to ask for help. Vulnerability and honesty within community is a beautiful thing. But as my sweet momma reminded me just a few days ago, I need to first be dependent upon God, spend time in His Word, ask him to speak to me, and then confide in trusted counsel (i.e. mentors, parents, close friends, counselors, teachers).
Joshua was able to lead the nation of Israel with strength and courage because he walked in obedience. We too can live with strength, courage, and the ability to release control, when we walk in obedience and trust the Great Provider.