Getting My Home Ready for Battle: Spring Cleaning in the Fall
Funny things can happen when you heed a warning from God to get ready.
For example, you throw away random things from your back porch, because that’s where you heard the warning in the first place.
God: Get ready, Heather.
Me: Oh, okay, I can do that! Let me just start by tidying up a bit.
Oh, look! There’s seven packs of seeds that I meant to plant in my garden last year.
I was going to feed my family for the whole summer from my 36-square foot garden alone. Tomatoes, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower. Oh, and radishes. We don’t eat radishes, but I heard they were easy to grow, so why not? I inherited my love of gardening from my grandmother, but unfortunately, did not inherit her patience for weeds. Or watering. Or bugs that eat your life’s harvest. Seeds, trashed.
Also evacuated from the porch: bubbles. Why in the world do we have fourteen bottles of bubbles? What kid amasses this many bubbles?? And why are they all giant???
I’m sure there will come a day when my hockey-playing nine-year-old invites his classmates over for milk and cookies and they all wear smocked rompers as they frolic in the back yard chasing bubbles that travel through our neighborhood spreading peace and giggles and joy. Today is not that day. Bubbles, trashed.
Fermented fertilizer, a leaky watering can, a disintegrating pair of garden gloves…all trashed. Porch, swept. Baseboards, dusted. Maternity clothes, sold. Three years of paperwork, archived.
Somehow, I interpreted my get ready warning from God to mean that spring cleaning should be done in the fall.
I made these freezer meals. There are 86 items on the shopping list to make these meals. When my husband came home to find a cooking madwoman with onions in her hair (think Julia Child learning to chop onions like a rockstar in Julie & Julia) , spaghetti sauce on the walls (think your kitchen when your toddler first learned he could throw food), and twenty-four dollar-store casserole dishes spread out on the counter (think you’re hosting your in-laws for Thanksgiving and you have no idea what you are doing), he was speechless.
We are a family of three and the third one of us has not yet reached puberty. Cooking for my family is not complicated. Whhyyyy did I suddenly feel the need to stock my freezer with enough food to last us until the rapture???
Oh, that’s right. God told me to get ready.
I chuckle at these things now, but considering all that has happened over the past nine months, I am certain they really were a part of God’s gentle nudging to prepare me for what was to come. Little did we know that over the next several months I would not be able to clean my house or feed my family because I would be recovering from serious surgeries instead.
But God knew. He knew how to push me towards the actions that would prepare my home for a time of crisis.
He also knew exactly what I needed to hear to prepare my heart.
Getting My Heart Ready for Battle: Absorbing the Lessons from Joshua 1
When God first told me to get ready, I found my way to the first chapter of Joshua, because this is the first place in the Bible where the words get ready appear. I spent a lot of time in this chapter; there are truths there that were essential to my ability to confidently hold fast to hope during the trying months that would follow.
In fact, there are truths in the whole book of Joshua that would mind-blowingly echo our circumstances down the road. But I am getting ahead of myself…that’s a teaser for a blog post to come.
Back to Joshua 1. As I was reading and re-reading this chapter, I made a few observations that I’d love to share with you today.
First, a little backstory: When the book of Joshua begins, Moses had just died. But before he did, at God’s command, he appointed Joshua as the next in line to lead the Israelites to their promised land. (Side note: I have a feeling that Joshua was not the bravest of souls, because the directive to “be strong and courageous” was given to him A LOT. I think I can empathize with Joshua.) There was a cloud, a blessing, and a super-cool song, and if you’re curious about it all you should read Deuteronomy 31-34.
The first chapter of Joshua is split into three parts: God’s spoken word to Joshua, Joshua’s instructions to the Israelites, and the Israelites response to Joshua. I’ve focused mostly on God’s instructions to Joshua (found in Joshua 1:1-9) and have filtered His words into two categories: His commands and His promises.
- Get ready. (v. 2)
- Be strong and courageous. (v. 6, 7, 9, and 18) – This command is so important that it is given four times in the first chapter of Joshua alone, not to mention all the times Joshua had already heard it in Deuteronomy.
- Stay focused. Don’t get off track with what God has told you to do. (v. 7).
- Meditate on God’s Word day and night. (v. 8)
- Do not be afraid or discouraged. (v. 9)
- God knows and will give us every footstep along the way. (v. 3)
- A blessing awaits you and it will be huge. (v. 2, 4)
- God will always be with you. (v. 5, 9)
- You are a part of God’s plan to bring others to Him and His blessings. (v. 6)
- He is faithful to keep His promises. (v. 6)
- You will be successful and you will prosper. (v. 7, 8)
God was calling [Joshua] to a very special and difficult ministry, one with tremendous challenges and obstacles far beyond his own skill or abilities.
-J. Hampton Keathley, III, The Commissioning of Joshua
Tremendous challenges and obstacles, indeed. Far beyond our own skills or abilities…yep, I can identify with that.
When God tells us to get ready, He means it. And sometimes He means that a battle is coming. God was preparing Joshua and the Israelites to cross the Jordan River. We know from Joshua 3:15 that the Jordan was “at flood stage,” meaning it was overflowing. Raging, probably. And very difficult to cross…much like the battles you and I face everyday.
Nowhere in the Bible is there a promise of easy-living on this earth. Life for all of us in this fallen world is earmarked with pain, hardship, and suffering. The battlefields are guaranteed. Flooding Jordans surround us.
When God brings us to a battle, He also equips us with all that we need to sustain it.
Yes, we have a responsibility here. We need to be prepared. We need to read and obey His word. We need to stay focused on the calling that we have received. We need to find the courage to put one foot in front of the other. We need to fight the discouragement that is so easily found in this world.
But, we can do all these things because we are not doing a single one of them alone.
God is with us always.
And what’s more, He goes before us. He is there shouting the battle cry before we even step one bony foot onto the field. He is faithful. If He tells you He will do something, He is going to do it. And He blesses us simply because He loves us. I don’t need to look any further than the story of the Israelites to be reminded that God’s love is not dependent on my actions.
The Israelites were not a people who did everything right. They doubted. They feared. They disobeyed. And yet.
God led them home anyway.
Taking These Truths Into Battle
When I think about the way God graciously prepared my heart with those two simple words, get ready, I have to close my eyes and catch my breath. Of course, my husband and I had no idea what kind of battle we were walking into when I made my first of many emergency room visits in early October. But because God had planted His commands and His promises in our hearts, we were ready.
When I had two aneurysms a few weeks later, we were ready. When I started chemotherapy intended to fix what we thought was an auto-immune disorder, we were ready. When my carotid artery ruptured, we were ready. When I was transferred very quickly to UNC Hospitals because my local hospital was not equipped to deal with me, we were ready. When my surgeon told us that the procedure required to fix my artery was extremely risky for someone with my condition, and that it might take more than one surgery to fully repair it, we were ready. When I whispered words of mother wisdom to my son, not knowing if I would see him again, I was ready. When my husband held my hand before they took me back to the operating room to start the second surgery, I told him I was ready. When the genetics team at UNC prepped my arm for the blood draw to test my DNA, I was ready. When the phone rang with the results that I did indeed have Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an incurable genetic disorder, we were ready.
When we walked through moments of fear and doubt, which certainly lurked around every corner, we were ready for God’s grace and mercy that was flooded upon us.
And when we watched God answer the hundreds of prayers lifted up on my behalf, we were ready and we rejoiced!!! Because we knew…we knew…that God was behind it all.
We were ready for all of these things not because we had a specific skill set, strength, or awareness that is different from anything that you possess now, but because God Himself was swinging the sword for us at every step along the battlefield.
It is easy for me to write these thoughts here, after all that we have been through and as we are walking through the recovery side of this latest journey. But our battle isn’t over. And maybe yours isn’t either. If you find that you are in the middle of a battle today, whether it be a physical, mental, or spiritual battle, I invite you to absorb the truths from Joshua 1 for yourself. They were written for you, too, you know, whether God told you to get ready or not.
And don’t think for a skinny minute that your battle is any less important or that these truths don’t apply to you if you’re not currently engaged in scary surgeries and crazy medical diagnoses. That just happens to be my battle.
But God knows yours, and He is with you always. You have all that you need to be ready, friend.
And P.S. – I want to be Julia Child when I grow up.
Read the next step in the story here.