While killing some time the other day, I opened up one of Koda’s old photo books and began to look at “the Bear” from a few years back. He’s about to turn 3 in a few weeks and I can’t believe how much he’s changed. Nostalgia hit me pretty hard as memories from just a few years ago began to flood back. Who knew a photo could carry so many memories, from tummy-time to tantrums, they all came rushing back! Each memory I cherished and wanted to hold on to, wishing I could go back for just for a few minutes to enjoy those moments one more time. Unfortunately, this moment didn’t last long, a high pitched squeak led to a loud crash originating from somewhere in the kitchen. “Uh-Oh … sorry daddy, I broke it”, I was quickly brought back to reality by the bear, but the difference in my attitude and demeanor was markedly different. I was suddenly excited, not exhausted, to enter into whatever mess he had gotten himself into. I wanted to enter into the moment with him, even if it was difficult, messy and draining, because I remembered I only had a short time with him at this age.
Joshua 24 tells the story of the Israelites as they have come to the end of their conquest for the promised land, and their leader Joshua tells them to do the very thing I was doing, he says, “remember”! Joshua says them to go back and remember what God has done for you. He has brought you out of Egypt, through the desert and the red sea, he has conquered the strongholds of the Egyptians and brought down the walls of Jericho. He has brought the Amorites, the Hittites, the Canaanites, and every other “ites” you can imagine to their knees in order to give you a promised land. He has given you a land prepared with his own hands for you.
It’s been 6 years since God rescued me from myself but sometimes I forget where God has brought me from. I too often forget the spiritual strongholds that fell in my life as I journeyed with Jesus. How my life trajectory changed from an army officer to selling shoes part time … it wasn’t always easy! Because sometimes it’s not easy following God, but it was during these humbling and life transforming times that God grounded my identity in him not my profession or performance. I don’t know how it works for you in your life but for me it is in the unclear and confusing times that my confidence in God grows the most. Not because of my faithfulness toward him but because of his faithfulness toward me! That’s why God tells me to look back … to see where you’ve been and where I’ve brought you! He says “go back … remember”.
But the best part is that remembering isn’t the end, it’s actually the beginning. Joshua tells the Israelites to remember God’s faithfulness not just for his praise but for their purpose. They had become lethargic and allowed other God’s into their worship. In short, they had forgotten their mission. They had left God for their own wilderness of self-absorbsion. They had become so busy in their day to day that they lost their drive.
Did you know God tells us the same thing for the same reason? The reason we remember God’s faithfulness is not to maintain, but to multiply. To bring more into the promise land! God isn’t content with us to just sit in our “promised land” but he actually calls us to bring others into that same promised land as well. That why he tells us, “Remember what I’ve already done, so you can believe me for what I’m going to do.” Don’t be content that you made it, bring others with you as well.
I wonder if you need to go back today so God can take you beyond tomorrow? Maybe you are in good times now, I would encourage you, don’t settle! God is calling you to go beyond your 9-5 job to see it as your mission field. He’s calling you to go beyond in your finances for the future of others. To give beyond your comfort for his calling. To go beyond your mundane to embrace his mission.
CRASH!!! Sorry daddy … I broke it.
It’s moments like this that we have a choice to make. Will we enter into the mess of humanity for the mission of Jesus? Or will we allow the pressures of everyday life to snuff out our God-given mission? 2 Corinthians 5:18 gives us our mission, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” The tension is that once God brings us into the promised land we leave him for our own wilderness. We leave him for our own selfish life, a life in the wilderness. Today, remember where God has brought … to spur you toward the mission he has for you. Go back to go beyond!