Last week, my heart was broken.
I found out my pastor was leaving to be the spiritual leader at another church.
My heart was not the only one broken, but to be honest, when I first found out, I wasn’t thinking of anyone else. Not thinking of my church. I was just grieving. I cried for a good hour.
This was the man that God used to teach me more about His Love than anyone else ever had. Every single Sunday for 5 years, I heard that the Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, LOVED ME! This man taught me more about the Bible than I had ever known. God used this man to help heal a broken place in my heart. And He used his wife as a friend and encourager.
I could re-write that last paragraph and insert my church’s name instead of the personal pronouns, and I think most of the congregation would say Amen.
Our church has been wandering in the wilderness for a while. We’ve had upheavals, disappointments, loss, change after change, move after move. But there is STILL a core of us who have been together through it all. We’ve had our hearts broken over other changes and loss. But we are STILL here. We are tired, but we are STILL here. Will we all still STAY here?
We were pretty beaten up when Pastor Bob came to us 5 years ago. And he took us back to basics. Back to who we are IN Christ, back to hearing the Word of God, back to LISTENING to the Word of God, back to what our Mission is supposed to be in this temporary place we live, called Earth. But most of all, he taught us that God loves us. That broken place in our hearts started healing.
But God obviously has a new path for us, as He has for Pastor Bob. It’s hard to imagine anyone better as a pastor for us but “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.“
We, a small congregation, have just moved to a new location…meant to be a permanent location…at least for the next few years. We’ve heard sermons about Be Strong & Courageous as I talked about here. All about crossing the river and going into the new land – the promised land.
Most of us are tired. Tired of the struggle. Tired of the upheavals. Tired of the losses, the changes, the disappointments. Wondering if we can continue. Wondering if God has really gone ahead of us to prepare the land. Some of us are hopeful, ready for this new adventure. Some of us are more than sad and disappointed. But is God calling us as He called the “Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh” to fight the battles…to help take possession of this new land? Is it not time for us to rest? We are tired. We need strength. We need courage. Do you know what courage means in this context? TAKE HEART. Guess who taught me that…..
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. 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. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 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.”
So 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.’”
But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you after he said, ‘The LORD your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the LORD your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”