“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’” Joshua 5:13 (NIV)
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Standing in the shadow of difficult circumstances that refuse to budge, while fear whispers in our ear about the inevitability of our defeat.
That’s one of the many reasons I’m so thankful for God’s Word. Because tucked into its pages, we find story after story of people who can help us learn in the midst of our battles. People who show us what it means to look to and depend upon the Lord.
Take Joshua, for example. If ever someone might feel overwhelmed at a situation totally out of their control, his experience facing Jericho was it.
Not only did the wall surrounding Jericho look invincible, but there also was the issue of Israel’s army lacking proper weapons for tackling such an impressively guarded city. You can’t exactly pull down walls with arrows and spears. That’s a job for battering rams and catapults — items noticeably missing from their arsenal.
But they had come too far to turn back. And the people of Israel were counting on Joshua to lead them into this land promised by God.
With all these facts and details weighing on him, Joshua is suddenly confronted by a man with a drawn sword. Scripture reveals this is no mere human. This is the commander of the Lord’s army — God’s presence in human form. And this is no everyday occurrence either. It is an incredible encounter.
Seeing the man is ready for battle, Joshua asks, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13b)
Wrapped in this honest question we discover hesitancy in Joshua — a peek inside his thought life — and a need for reassurance. Such an honest question, but it makes me believe Joshua isn’t walking in complete confidence and assurance. If he were, he wouldn’t have asked. But he did.
This is where we assume that, of course, God’s presence will answer, “Joshua, I am with you, for you and on your side!”
But we would assume wrong.
When asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” the presence of God replies, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua falls face down in humility and reverence — asking what message the Lord has for him, His servant. (Joshua 5:14b)
I wonder what kind of message Joshua was expecting, even longing for. Perhaps one overflowing with war strategy and tactics. But instead of detailed plans, Joshua receives a call to worship. He’s told to remove his sandals, for the ground is holy. (Joshua 5:15)
It’s an invitation and a reminder for Joshua to worship the One who’s not only big enough to handle the impending battle, but also loving enough to address the doubt, fear and insecurity running through Joshua’s mind. And as Joshua slips off his sandals, I’m reminded of what I need in the face of my own seemingly insurmountable situations: I need to worry less and worship more …
When I’m desperate for God to give me all the details …
When I’m wishing He would give me the tiniest peek at His plans …
When I’m starting to wonder if He’s for me or against me …
I need to pause, lift my eyes to the One willing to meet me in the midst of my fears, and worship Him. Worshiping not only because it honors Him, but because it also changes me.
Worship might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we feel overwhelmed, but it truly is powerful. It reminds our trembling hearts and shaky knees that our God is mighty, our God is loving and our God is a more-than-able God. It both quiets us and strengthens us — perfectly preparing our hearts and minds for whatever battles lie ahead.
I don’t know what “walls” you’re facing in your life right now, friend. I don’t know how overwhelming and daunting they seem. But I do know the perfect battle plan for each and every one of us.
Worry less. Worship more. And trust our God to lead us into victory.
Father God, thank You for reminding me that the best way to prepare my heart and mind for battle is to simply and humbly worship You. So today, as I lay my fears down at Your feet, I lift my hands up to You in worship. You are worthy of my trust. You are worthy of my praise. Today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Are you looking for scriptures to memorize with your kids this summer to help them face their own fears? Check out my children’s book, It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change! Use this story as the theme of your summer and memorize one verse a week of the 10 listed in the front of the book. You’ll love walking your child through ways to apply biblical truth!
Click here to purchase your copy of It Will Be Okay.
If you’re looking for something to dig into each day for yourself, I want to invite you to find biblical encouragement in my new devotional book: Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God is Holding You Close.
With Embraced, you will be equipped to:
- Find freedom from the struggles that have held you hostage by learning new ways to experience God’s love.
- Surrender your deepest hurts by processing them in a godly way with Lysa, a friend who understands your pain.
- Hear the Lord speak intimately to your heart by learning how to seek His direction.
- Release the tension of wondering, “If God is near, why does He sometimes feel far away?” by spending intentional, guided time with Him each day.