This seems like a happy ending, doesn’t it? We, along with that rock (vv. 26-27), are witnesses to what the Israelites claimed that day. “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods.” Even after Joshua pressed them a bit more, they stood firm that they would serve the Lord. The story of God’s people will continue with the Book of Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings. We will see for ourselves what “never” looks like and where the leaks in faith come about.
Joshua does a fine job of presenting God’s message to the people that day. God takes them down memory lane to remind them of his great power. They have the inheritance they do because of God. They are stirred with adoration and gratitude. It does us good, too, to remember God’s mercy and love. Those remembrances are what we can cling to when the going gets rough.
God doesn’t promise us a life filled with sunny skies, rainbows, and unicorns. He promises us he will be with us, protect us, give us strength, answer our prayers, and love us forever (just to name a few). He also brings peace amidst the storms of our lives. Peace is that precious gift from God, an indescribable feeling of well-being reminding us all is well when Jesus is with us.
Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Just as Joshua was sharing his parting words, we can fast forward and think of the words Jesus left for us as well. If you are struggling right now with something that is out of your control, rest in the peace Jesus gives.
Take some time today to take yourself back and imagine standing in Joshua’s presence that day. How are you feeling? Are you feeling relieved that the wandering is over, and you finally have the security of being at home? Are you sad that Joshua is saying goodbye and are now wondering what’s next?
For me, I’ve always loved this verse: “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” We can’t control what other people do or think. We can control our own selves. While I can’t speak for our children now that they are grown with families of their own, this is still a value at my core. I will serve the Lord. That is what gets me up out of bed every day. I ask, “How can I do a better job of being a servant leader today, Lord?”
We say goodbye to Joshua, but his faithfulness and might has left a mark for those believers coming after him. His memory stands as one of strength, courage, and obedience to God. We can all take something from that, can’t we?
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for the strong role models you have raised up for us to follow. Forgive me for times in my life when I have not been so focused on you or your path for my life. I look forward to seeing how you will move me in the days ahead. Prepare my heart to serve you in ways I may not feel ready for now. May I be the strong role model others look to when they are feeling weak. In Jesus’ name. Amen.