Brady: Overcoming obstacles and carrying on

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

“Moses is dead; Joshua carries on!” So read the editorial caption in the evening paper, “Chronicles” dated 1200 B.C.

What better subject for a new year’s article? “Moses is dead; Joshua carries on!” Here’s the situation. The promised land has been spied out and all systems are go. The Israelites have followed Joshua to the Jordan river. The long-awaited for promised land is just ahead. A new and exciting day is dawning.

But then it happens-trouble-an obstacle! Obstacles may be economic, political, social or personal, but they always come.

As I said, obstacles always come. It must have been difficult. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, always hoping for the big moment, when they would suddenly come into their own, these Israelites found themselves facing an unexpected hazard. There were no boats or bridges and the Jordan river was flooding, just gallons of rushing water. Their objective was right before them, but they couldn’t get to it.

So what did their leader, Joshua, do in this despairing situation? We are told that at the end of those three miserable days, Joshua sent his officers throughout the camp telling the people that they were to move out when they saw the priests carrying the ark of the Lord. They were to follow the ark (the symbol of God’s presence) so that they would know the way to go. So they did, and so they arrived safely in the promised land.

So what is Joshua’s special word to us as we enter this new year 2018? First, keep in touch with your source. Note that the children of Israel are to be led into the land of promise not by the military but by the priests. The favorable presence of God must go before them. Why? It is simply because they do not know the way. They are about to enter a brand new territory. Without God’s leadership and guidance they will not know where to go. And the same is true of us as we enter this 2018 new year of unknowns and uncertainties.

Somebody asked Robert Browning, “What is the one theme in all your poetry most representative of you and who you are? Browning replied, “I am very sure of God.”

The late A.W. Tozer, American minister and bestselling author, once wrote: “A low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils. A high view of God is the solution to 10,000 temporal problems.” In other words, if you want to live a victorious life in 2018, when you see the ark of the covenant go after it. Keep in touch with your Source.

Second, move out with courage. Joshua doesn’t say that you should sneak out from your place, or squirm out from your place or timidly leave your place. Joshua said, “Set out.” When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God… set out,” Joshua said (Joshua 3:3). That’s the key right there. See the ark-set out. Out of commitment comes courage.

Had we looked into Jesus’ face as he turned toward Jerusalem, we would have seen no fear. We are informed that “He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Initially, Jesus made the commitment and then as a result came the  courage. The two go hand in hand — commitment and courage.

Another way of saying this is move from an attitude of “whatever”to an attitude of “whatever it takes.” Whatever is an attitude of pure indifference. We don’t know, don’t care, and don’t care to know. On the other hand,  whatever it takes is a courageous attitude that grows out of our kinship with the Eternal. Move out with courage.

Third, bring the best you have to the highest you know! Joshua said to the Israelites, “Sanctify yourselves…” (Joshua3:5). Live honorable lives!

Not long ago, a television reporter was interviewing a group of astronauts about opportunities and dangers of travel in space. He concluded the interview by asking this question, “What do you think is the single most important key to successful space travel?”

One of the astronauts made an interesting response, “The secret of traveling in space is to take your own atmosphere with you.”

As I read that interview, I realized that this is also true of our travels on the earth. And I think this is precisely what Joshua is talking about when he says, “Live honorable lives.” He’s saying that we don’t have to succumb  to the dishonorable influences around us-prejudice, greediness, dishonesty, divisiveness, unkindness, fearfulness and other. We can just take our own atmosphere with us.

Personally, I like the way J.B. Phillips translates Paul’s words in Romans 12:2. Phillips states: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” You want to make a difference in the year 2018? Live an honorable life or carry your own atmosphere with you. Be the neighbor who acts neighborly. Happy New Year!

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways.