I try to stay a ‘glass half full’ kind of girl, but it doesn’t always happen. It’s easy to get bogged down in life and before you know it, your perspective has changed. It can bring restless nights and weary days.
I recently fell while vacationing in Historic Savannah. The tip of my shoe got stuck in the crack of a cobblestone street and down I went. My knee took the brunt of it but it didn’t stop our plans.
Over the next few days the swelling worsened, but still I was able to walk and enjoy the beautiful city. The swelling continued as we traveled several hours back home.
After a few days, I noticed redness behind my knee and pain down my leg. I went back to work and the pain became more intense. Finally it forced me to the doctor and I was diagnosed with a blood clot. I’ve had a history of them.
Because of the recurring clots, I had to immediately give up my job because it required long commutes. Sitting for hours in a car increased my risk of yet another clot. I also stopped serving in my church which involved sitting at a computer for several hours on Sunday mornings. I grieved that loss. I felt startled at the changes that took place so quickly. I felt vulnerable and defeated.
I began looking at my glass half empty.
My days seemed unfamiliar since I no longer had my career. Life had changed so drastically without any warning.
Spiritually I missed serving God at church. Financially my budget had taken a hit and emotionally I felt defeated. I became afraid and it was hard to sleep.
One of my favorite books in the Bible is Joshua. I found myself turning there, seeking relief from my own battle by reading about his. He makes battles look adventurous. He makes you want to join him. His battles are full of strategies from God.
I’ve often pictured myself riding next to him on a powerful horse ready to take the next city. I’ve imagined hearing the pounding of hooves and feeling the dust in my face as we rode off into the night. I could see the lights of the ancient city coming closer and closer as we prepared to conquer it and its king. We rode faster and faster as we approached the castle-like doors we would break through in the darkness. Victory would be ours as we took yet another city that stood between us and the Promised Land.
In my imagination Joshua always won, but there was a little twist in the real story.
Moses depended on Joshua to be his right hand man and taught him to be a leader. Now Moses had died and God chose Joshua to take Israel into the land of milk and honey. God told Joshua, I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. (Joshua 1:3 NIV). He was a well trained warrior who was ready to take the land with God’s blessings. He heard God tell him No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5 NIV)
Joshua enjoyed success leading the people of Israel. As he advanced toward Jericho, God parted the waters of the Jordan just like he did for Moses at the Red Sea. Jericho was now in rubble and Joshua had proven himself faithful.
Victory was his in Jericho, but he lost the next battle and didn’t know why. His army had gone up against the city of Ai but returned defeated. His life changed with no warning. His emotions were stirred at the thought of his enemies thinking God’s people were now weak.
He remembered God’s words to be strong and courageous, but He wasn’t feeling so courageous now. Life had not gone as he expected and his nights were filled with restless sleep. He was staring at a glass half empty.
The next few days looked different to Joshua. There was a problem in his camp and he had to flush it out. What happened to the constant success he expected? Joshua questioned God, asking him why he even brought them across Jordan in the first place. How could they have lost this battle after being so victorious in Jericho? He fell on his face in defeat.
God often encourages us with a gentle voice. We remember his words of green pastures and still waters, but today God was not so gentle with Joshua. He needed Joshua to do what he had taught him to do. He had prepared him for this, to be strong, to be courageous.
As he lay there in defeat, The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? (Joshua 7:10 NIV)
These words seemed harsh, but they worked, for Joshua and for me. I could almost hear God telling me to get up and cut it out.
Joshua got up and started listening to God’s instructions to take care of business at home. He found the problem in his camp and made it safe again. His perspective was back on track. He climbed back on his horse and did what God had taught him to do.
That verse was what I needed in the middle of my defeat. When the doctor told me my job was no longer an option, it meant the loss of income from a familiar source. I was afraid and the fear was building. Many times God had come to me in gentleness, but now I needed Get up and cut it out!
In the middle of my fear, I received a note from a friend with those same scriptures that God had given to Joshua, reminding me God would never leave me or forsake me. He reminded me to be strong and courageous. These words began to penetrate my fear. He included a quote from John Wayne “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway”.
God had instructions for me that were difficult to hear with my face on the floor. I needed to know what I should do next. He had prepared me for this, but I had been busy staring at a half empty glass and feeling afraid.
Joshua’s story taught me there was no guilt in losing perspective as he went on to victory after victory. I have to listen for God to guide me and accept my days will look different.
We often face changes that are not easy. Our lives can look so different in just one day, but sitting in front of a half empty glass will not take us to our Promised Land.
Sometimes God simply tells us to saddle up even when we’re afraid. He puts the reigns in our hands, and says “Do what I’ve taught you to do”.