The Onward and Upward Journey


Two months ago, my wife and I went to New Zealand for the first time with bro Jimmy and his family. One of the most memorable moments during the trip was our hike up Mount Maunganui, which is 232m above sea level and which provides a stunning 360-degree view of the surroundings. There were a few different tracks to the summit. We chose the steep path which was supposedly the faster route. Little did we know how tough and challenging the route was. At the last checkpoint before reaching the summit, I contemplated giving up, because I was feeling tired after the long and steep climb. I rested for a few minutes while the rest of them went ahead, and I later decided to press on. In the end, it was all worth it as I got to see God’s marvellous creation from the mountain top.


As we journey onward in our lives on earth, before we are eventually called back to God or Jesus’ second coming, sometimes we may think that life is going to be a breeze, only to be surprised by what lies ahead of us. As the going gets tough, each step we take gets heavier, and sometimes we may feel like giving up. We start to doubt whether it is really worth it to press on.


This reminded me of the days when Joshua took over from Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Let’s look at some lessons we can learn from Joshua.


Be Strong and Courageous

Perhaps the task of being the next leader could have felt daunting for Joshua initially, and he might have thought of giving up. Indeed, God encouraged Joshua by telling him thrice to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-7, 9). Some might look at this and think that Joshua was a timid man. However, he had in fact displayed strength and courage on few occasions previously. Firstly, Joshua was chosen by Moses to lead the battle against the Amalekites (Exo 17:8-16), which showed that he was a brave warrior. Secondly, he was one of the 12 spies sent to scout the land of Canaan. Only Joshua and Caleb came back with good reports, noting that the Israelites would be able to conquer the land even though the Anakims were giants (Numbers 13). These two accounts demonstrated that Joshua was someone who was able to lead the Israelites. God’s encouragement was merely a reassurance that as long as Joshua remained strong and courageous, God would not forsake him.


While we may or may not have to take up a leadership role in our daily lives, we still need to be strong and courageous in our lives too. The Bible reminds us that life will not be smooth sailing just because we live a godly life (2 Timothy 3:12). Do not be discouraged when faced with trials and tribulations as we know that the trying of our faith helps us to be patient (Romans 5:3; James 1:3). God reassures us that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and will provide a way for us to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). Hence, we should rely on God for strength and courage to overcome the challenges in our lives.


Be Equipped to Emerge Victorious

Secondly, as a result of Joshua’s strength and courage, he led the Israelites to countless victories and they managed to inherit the Promised Land eventually. In particular, their faith was exemplified by their obedience to all of God’s commandments, which led to the fall of the strong walls of Jericho (Joshua 6).


Today, while we may not fight physical battles like Joshua, we are told that our battles will be against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). We need to equip ourselves with the armour of God, which consists of (1) the belt of truth; (2) the breastplate of righteousness; (3) the shoes of the gospel of peace; (4) the shield of faith; (5) the helmet of salvation; and (6) the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan (Ephesians 6:13-18). Therefore, we ought to remain steadfast in our faith and be strong as well (1 Corinthians 16:13). Only then will we be able to emerge victorious.


Be Faithful and Serve God

Lastly, Joshua ensured that his household continued to serve the LORD only (Joshua 24:15). Notice the influence that Joshua had on the Israelites – they fully agreed with Joshua that they should not forsake God and serve other gods, because of what He had done for them since coming out from Egyptian captivity (Joshua 24:16-18).


Likewise, God has shown His love for us by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross so that our sins can be washed away. We should learn from Joshua and the Israelites not to forsake God and strive to serve Him to the best of our abilities (1 Corinthians 15:58). LAPCOC has many faithful brethren who have shown good examples of their wholehearted service towards God in various ministries. Let’s continue to do our part as members of the body of Christ and edify one another in love (Ephesians 4:16).


Conclusion

Sometimes we are tempted to take the easy way out, or choose what is easy rather than what is right. Remember Joshua and be like him – be strong and courageous. Do not give up on our faith. Continue to defeat the spiritual battles against Satan and serve God always. The upward journey to heaven is certainly not a walk in the park, but we will get there if we persevere till the end.