Portions of this post are excerpts from an upcoming Bible study I am writing on Joshua 1-5. Stay tuned or subscribe here for updates on its 2017 release.
This post also appears as Day 28 of 31 Days of Battling Anxiety with Biblical Truth. If you’re new to the series, you can follow along from the beginning here.
I turned to the left and then to the right. I looked behind me and as far out in front of me as I could see. Round and round I turned, but it made no difference. Everything looked the same. Crunchy leaves covered the ground below and almost barren trees towered all around above. There was nothing remotely familiar for as far as I could see.
We were lost.
We had only meant to explore the woods just behind the hunting lodge. But ten-year old girls are prone to wander, especially if they are dreamers like myself and my friend, Renee. She had invited me to spend a weekend in the wilderness at her family’s cabin near the lodge. By the time we realized we were lost, we weren’t sure if we had drifted into hunting territory or not, but we knew that we were not safe. Renee took my hand and whispered, “at least we’re here together. I promise won’t leave you.”
I squeezed her hand in response, but it was a timid squeeze. Her comforting promise didn’t comfort me at all. At that moment, I didn’t care if I was in the presence of every person on the planet. My problem wasn’t that I felt alone; my problem was that I was lost in a potentially dangerous area and I had no idea how to find my way home.
I didn’t want someone to assure me that they were with me. I wanted someone to get me out of the woods.
If I am honest with myself, I have felt this way towards God before. I am not ashamed to admit that when faced with hardship, I’d rather He just make it go away instead of hold my hand through it. But God knows that we wouldn’t experience the fullness of His character if He simply wiped away the challenges that lie ahead.
If we want to claim victory over our problems, we’ve got to cling to God’s presence.
Joshua knew this. Tasked with the incredible challenge of shepherding the Israelites across a flooding Jordan River, Joshua never wavered. When God promised that He would be with them, Joshua didn’t respond with a shaky hand squeeze for his weary people. He knew what God was offering when He promised His presence. So Joshua’s immediate response was this:
Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.
Get ready. Let’s do this. God has our backs. It’s time to rise up. This was Joshua’s response.
What was it Joshua fully understood about God’s presence that drove him to brazenly move forward against seemingly insurmountable odds? Leading hundreds of thousands of Israelites through a dense jungle to cross a flooding Jordan that raged up to 40 miles per hour at a mile wide after the winter rains?
Surely he had the right to be anxious. Surely he had the right to be scared. And still, his response was to immediately get ready for the challenging task that lay before them. He knew God’s presence was all that he needed to get to the other side.
I think what Joshua knew can be summed up with the six P’s of God’s Presence:
When God promises to be with us, His presence includes:
- His plan.
- His protection.
- His provision.
- His peace.
- His power.
- His prize.
God has had a plan for this world since He created it. You are a part of that plan and He has plans for you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Because He is always with us, He is also always watching over us. We have a constant, mighty protector.
I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
God is aware of all of our needs and He promises to fulfill them.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace enables us to meet the challenges of this world without fear or anxiety. His peace is always available to us.
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Our God created the world and conquered death. That same power lives in us.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Most importantly, we have the greatest treasure with us at all times: Jesus in our hearts. Our relationship with Jesus is the most valuable prize we will ever receive.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
His plan, protection, provision, peace, power, and prize. God’s presence includes all these things. But the beauty of God’s presence is not just that we have these six P’s to cling to. The beauty is also that God does know the way home. He knows how to get us out of the woods. He knows how to get us to the other side of our flooding Jordans.
Our job is simply to cling to the promise of His presence.