Joshua 1:3—I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses.
There are times when I am reading my Bible and a verse stops me in my tracks. The verse above qualifies—what an incredibly powerful 18 words. Let’s consider the context. Moses just died. To appreciate his loss, think of losing your parents as a child or your nation’s best leader right before a major war. The Israelites were poised to move into Canaan, a land full of bigger, stronger nations and now the man who spoke with God was buried somewhere in a Moab valley (see Deu. 34:6).
Bob Wieland lost his legs to a mortar round in the Vietnam War. But that didn't stop the 57-year-old veteran from finishing the Los Angeles Marathon. Using only his hands and on less than twelve hours of sleep, it took Bob a week to complete the 26.2-mile course. Surrounded at the finish by well-wishers and admirers, Wieland said, "This was not natural. This was supernatural. It was only done by the grace of God."
Have you ever observed children competing in sports? I think one of the most hilarious heartwarming sights is watching boys and girls on a soccer field. Usually one or two kids understand the game and are competitive. They typically score the goals or perform heroically on defense. Meanwhile, the rest of the players sort of meander around as a herd not really sure what to do, not overly motivated but having fun.
The Bible references the number 40, 114 times. It often signifies completion for a period of blessing, testing or punishment. Consider: “You will bear the consequences of your sins 40 years based on the number of the 40 days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know My displeasure” (Numbers 14:34). So God condemned a generation of Israelites to wander in the Sinai desert, a place of barrenness that aptly illustrated the shriveled state of their faith. They would not enter the promised land because it contained giants. The only exception God made was to 40-year-old Joshua and his friend Caleb. He blessed these two courageous men who saw opportunity where others feared defeat.
In the New Testament there is a little book called Galatians. In chapter 5 verses 16-26 is a powerful contrast between what our sinful nature produces and what God’s Spirit produces. I can tell myself I’m a pretty good guy and try to live in my own power but let’s face it—the end result reeks. My mind lusts, my eyes covet, my nature is inherently selfish. In short, there is a war going on. Every person on this planet is engaged daily in war—Flesh against Spirit. Whenever I choose the side of Flesh, life invariably gets miserable and all hell breaks loose. Whenever I yield to God’s Spirit, life becomes joyful and all heaven breaks loose. This is not an oversimplification of a classic struggle, just the confessions of a battle veteran.
The only marathon I’ve ever run was the San Diego Marathon. I trained hard and enjoyed running along the coastline. I determined to run at a 7:00 minute/mile pace. I was psyched on the day of the race to meet my goal of completing the 26+ mile race in under 3 hours.