A New Leader

Joshua 1.  Do you remember the 1962 DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) commercial for Avis?  “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.”  “Or else.” Within one year, Avis went from loosing 3.2 million dollars to profiting 1.2 million dollars!  In the 40’s Air Force officer Warren Avis had the vision for renting cars to people who flew to cities for meetings and only needed a rental.  This commercial shot Avis into view and ran for over 50 years around the globe.  Wow.  I wonder if Joshua, who took over for Moses, didn’t feel like the number 2 man now having to replace that charismatic leader to take the people into the Promised Land?  We sing, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” to remember Joshua but that has not happened yet in his life. As he faces stepping into big shoes, God’s promises to Joshua found in chapter one, must have encouraged him.  God promised that he would fulfill his promises to Moses through Joshua and be with Joshua.  The gift of presence!  Joshua was not alone.  Four times in chapter one Joshua is told, “Be strong and very courageous!”  God will be faithful but we must be strong and courageous.

         That was good advice for Joshua, but “I’m not following Moses,” I hear you saying.  Perhaps yes but many of us know what it is like to be the second wife after the first good or bad wife.  We know about being a step mother.  We hire on to a new job that was handled so well by the previous person, or at least that is how the stories go.  There is always an Olympic record to break, someone to impress, and someone to compete with.  The desire to be valued for yourself, just as you are, to belong, I suspect is a driving dream for many of us.

         God does not promise to be with Joshua “only if,” but he does warn Joshua to meditate on the Book of the Law and to be careful to obey.  God does not promise automatic success that will be orchestrated by God behind the scenes.  We are not robots.  Success is work and partnership between Joshua and God, between God and us.  God promises to be present and helping Joshua.  But likewise Joshua must be brave and courageous.  Perhaps we call that faith when we act on what we know to be true from God’s word.  Obedience is hard but God is faithful to be present, helping.

         So where is the challenge to step forward in faith and obedience today, the place in your life where you need to be brave and courageous and trust God?  Perhaps there is someone to forgive.  Perhaps there is someone who is tough to love.  Perhaps there is a wayward child you need to hang in with.  Joshua stepped in to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land.  God went with him and God will go with us.  Let us be brave and courageous.

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