Completing the Work: “Autumn Along the Rappahannock,” © Lynn Abbott 

*This post was actually written prior to my immediately previously published post. Thus, I have decided to publish it before my break.  However, as per my last post’s plan, comments have been temporarily disabled.  No worries about the break.  All is well. Find explanation here.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Hanging in the stairwell of my home, there are a collection of family photos.  One of my favorites depicts my now 23-year-old as a toddler attempting to wear his dad’s shoes.

If you have children, you may have photos of them donning your shoes. I think all children find their parents’ shoes fascinating.  I know I did.

However, it is humorous to see a small person shuffling about in those giant boots, high heels or loafers.  When he was two, my son did not fit those shoes.

Of course, those shoes wouldn’t fit him today, either.  But for different reasons.  He now towers over both his father and me.

Yet, none of us could have imagined that all those years ago when he tried on his daddy’s shoes for the first time.   I worried he would stumble.  On high alert, I followed him as he shuffled around our home.  I was fully prepared to catch him if he were to fall.

If you have children, you probably have photos of them donning your shoes.

Even so, I applauded his effort and praised his desire to fill those big shoes.

Sometimes, I feel like a toddler wandering around in shoes that don’t fit…

the tasks before me are too great;

expectations stalk me like giants;

my preparation falls short;

the destination or goal looms large;

God’s calling appears impossible.

And although the destination may sparkle on the horizon,

I cannot envision my journey from here to there.

Perhaps, you’ve felt the same way at times during your journey.

God has asked you to cross a river, and the water spreads wide.  The crossing appears extraordinarily challenging if not impossible.

I can’t help but wonder if Joshua felt similarly as Moses prepared to hand him the leadership baton.

After all, Moses wore some pretty big shoes.  You might say old Mo’ was a “bigger-than-life” role model.

And Moses had mentored Joshua.  In fact, after the nation had rejected Joshua and Caleb’s favorable report regarding the promised land ( Numbers 13-24),  Joshua shadowed Moses for more than 40 years in the desert.

Moses became a kind of father figure in Joshua’s life.  For this reason, I cannot even begin to imagine the void that Moses’ death left in Joshua’s life.

But I do know how it felt to lose my parents.  My confidence shook to its core.

Sometimes, I feel like a toddler wandering around in shoes that don’t fit…

At the time of their death, I didn’t believe that I could navigate life without their wisdom and counsel.  I doubted whether I could step into the big shoes of leadership and grace that they left as a legacy.

And I certainly couldn’t imagine making any major life decisions without their counsel. Without my parents to encourage and inspire, my confidence faltered.

I truly relate to Joshua.  His calling, of course, was a great deal larger than mine.  Israel had grown as “numerous as the stars in the sky,” (Deuteronomy 10:22).

No wonder God spoke so graciously to him in Joshua 1:1-9.  Moses’ Aide desperately needed a pep talk.   After all, he definitely remembered the last time God had led the people to the border of Canaan.  I suspect he wondered how he would succeed where Moses had failed.

Yup. I totally get that.

Even those with tremendous faith, those who seek God with all their hearts, those who comment their lives to service…

Even the heroes of the faith need support and encouragement.  Life knocks the wind out of even the best.  I suspect Joshua felt overcome by grief, and feared he was inadequate to don the mantle of his spiritual mentor.

I’m sure Josh shook his head, and questioned his own calling.

Perhaps, you look at the road before you and wonder just how you will take the next step.

I truly relate to Joshua.

Although you know Abba is loving, good, and faithful, you recognize your weakness and fear the challenges that lie ahead of you.  The other bank of the river promises great joy and reward, the journey from here to there appears as impossible as the quest made by Tolkien’s protagonist, Frodo, across the wilds of barren and evil Mordor.

And you may ask, as I have on occasion, how will I ever make it without my mentors?  How will I ever walk in such big shoes?  Will I make it across the rapid and roaring tides?

Recall with me the words of Yahweh, our heavenly Father, spoken to Joshua so long ago:

“…I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them…Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then, you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go,”  (Joshua 1:5-6;8-9).

God doesn’t leave us.  He provides the counsel we crave.  He gently lifts the brokenhearted, the discouraged, the anxious, the overwhelmed and the afraid.  He provides the resources we need for the calling He has given each of us.

Sure, Joshua could no longer turn to Moses for encouragement or direction.  But Joshua had the counsel of God: “Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth…”(Joshua 1:8).  With God’s counsel and guidance, Joshua would find success.

God doesn’t leave us.

Moses had moved to eternity.  But God would never leave or forsake Joshua.

Yes, Joshua grew up.  The time had come to wear big shoes.  And that meant crossing a wide river into yet unknown blessing.

But Joshua could cling to Yahweh’s promise.  God, in His grace, would provide.

Joshua likely could not envision how he would lead such a vast people group across the flooded Jordan river and into the Promised Land.

Nevertheless, Joshua acted on faith.  He believed God’s Word.

Interestingly enough, Josh sent two men to scout out the land.  Forty years after their failed faith fiasco, Israel received a gracious second opportunity.  But this time, having learned from Moses’ experience, Joshua knew how best to direct and inspire the people.

I imagine that he and Mo’ had talked a great deal about how Mo’ might have handled the spies’ report differently.

This time, reconnaissance for battle was the goal.   With Rahab’s help, the two spies narrowly escaped the king of Jericho.  And they brought Joshua an optimistic and faith-driven report.

The spies reported to Joshua.  No mention is made of a report to the people.  Joshua lead with the strength and courage that God had rekindled in him after Moses’ death.

And Joshua said to God’s people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you,” (Joshua 3:5).

Grace for the Crossing…

Yes, indeedy.  When Israel came to the waters of the Jordan, the river parted just as the Red Sea had.  God made a way where there seemed to be no way.  God miraculously opened the humanly impossible and carried His people into the Promised Land, a land of seemingly limitless blessing.

And Abba longs to do the same for you and me.  Confidence shaken?  Faith running low after a series of tragic circumstances or tremendous persecution?   Does the river seem too wide?  The shoes too large?

Our God has promised that He will never leave or forsake us.  He is near.  He loves.  He gives greater grace.  He provides and in our weakness, He is strong, (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Yes,  God grants grace for the crossing… He is our bridge from here to there.

And so, we know that no river is too wide; no mountain too high for those who follow Him.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline,” ~2 Timothy 1:7

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go,” ~Joshua 1:9