Scripture: Joshua 8:1-35
Observation: Following their defeat at Ai, Joshua listened to the Lord, followed his instructions, and was victorious over the people of Ai. He then built an altar and held a ceremony for all of the Israelites, reading from the Book of Instruction and officially recognizing that they had taken the land the Lord had promised.
Application: “You should have listened to me.”
I hear those six little words all the time from my husband -- almost as often as “I love you” and “what time will you be home?” and “this one’s on you.” (That last gem is most frequently used to indicate it’s my turn to change our son’s poopy diaper for the third time that day. Help us, Jesus.)
While I hate to admit it, he is generally right in his predictions, whether it’s about people or a movie plot. The only thing more predictable than him being right is me telling him he’s not...
...and then he pretty much always is.
We may as well just get “you should have listened to me” framed and hung up in our living room.
While he’s not quite as sarcastic or sardonic as my husband, my guess is that God often utters the phrase “you should have listened to me.” He's nudging us towards what's right...we choose a different way... and then eventually we realize: we should have listened to God.
That's where the Israelites are here. When they first try to defeat the people at Ai, they took matters into their own hands, developed their own strategy, and charged into the land expecting victory only to experience a sound defeat (Joshua 7:4). After discovering Achan’s sin and dealing with him according to the Lord’s instruction, it was time once again to try and defeat their enemies.
But unlike the first time, Joshua starts with God.
He didn’t strategize first. He didn’t plan first. He didn’t try it on his own first. He went to God first – and God guided him every step of the way.
“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.” (v.1)
When Joshua came to God first, he received a powerful promise and an encouraging blessing.
God will always be right, and he will always guide us – if we start with him.
Is God your starting line or the place you go when you’ve run out of options? Today, start with God. Invite him into your decisions and doubts, your fears and your failures. He’s waiting for you.
Prayer: God, it can be so easy to get caught up in trying to “manage” our lives on our own. Today, I pray we’ll offer up everything – every decision and doubt and discouragement – to you, and trust you to work in big ways. Amen.