By Tony Marciano
You’ve probably seen the movie “Groundhog Day.” Bill Murray wakes up and it is Groundhog Day every morning. Yes, every morning.
My “Groundhog Day” goes to the book of Joshua; specifically chapter 1, verse 9. It says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
When I first came to Charlotte Rescue Mission, I believe God gave me that verse. Over and over, He brought me back to it. Sometimes it was my Bible reading; other times it was a friend. More recently, it was on the napkin dispenser in our Rebound men’s dining room.
God outlines all that He is going to do through Joshua in verses 3-5. He explains how far his territory will extend. Then halfway through verse 5, God starts the process of speaking into the heart of Joshua: “as I was with Moses, I will be with you.” Then as if he wasn’t listening, God repeats it in verse 6, “Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land, I swore to their ancestors to give them.” God repeats himself, “Be strong and very courageous.” Then, just in the event he wasn’t listening, God repeats himself one more time in verse 9.
Courage. I can’t give you courage. I can’t give it to you in a pill. It is when you go through hard and difficult times that you develop courage.
Recently, I saw what I missed in these words, “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites.” It finally hit me. Forty years before, Joshua was one of the 12 spies Moses sent to check out the Promised Land. It was better than they imagined. A cluster of grapes was so large, that they had to put a pole through it and two men carried it on their shoulders. But there were giants in the land and they appeared to them as grasshoppers. Ten of the 12 spies wanted to return to Egypt and become slaves of Pharaoh rather than go to a place they had never been before. God kills those 10 spies. Joshua and Caleb, the other two spies, believed and were spared. For 40 years, Joshua wandered the wilderness with the children of Israel. Forty years later, he returns to the spot where the 10 spies doubted God. It is here that God says to him, “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites.” With those words, Joshua realizes he is about to go back to that very scary place, the place that has giants in the land. He receives his marching orders facing that scary reality.
Similarly, this coronavirus is also a scary place. The spies were nervous because they had no idea how they would conquer that land. We too are wondering how we are going to navigate this virus and the aftershocks it is producing on this world. Joshua knew about the city of Jericho and its strong walls. Forty years later, God says “go” and doesn’t tell him how he is going to conquer the walled city of Jericho. He just says, “go.”
As a Christ follower, my confidence is not in blind faith. It is in a living person, Jesus, who conquered sin and death. Easter weekend we celebrate His victory over the grave.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Go to www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.