The Story so far …
Over the past 3 months, we’ve followed Moses’ extraordinary leadership journey through the blogs in The Story category. Now, Joshua takes over the mantle of domestic governance, external battles, and spiritual guidance of a group. What is Joshua’s first move? Read the Bible story leadership guide in The Story
Scripture: Joshua 5: 13 -15, Joshua 6, Ruth 4: 18 – 22, Matthew 1: 3-6
SCENE ONE: TWO SOLDIERS CONVERSE
Joshua: Salmon, stop.
Salmon: Stop what?
Joshua: Thinking about that prostitute.
Salmon: Who said I’m thinking about her?
Joshua: I can hear you thinking many things. And each one is about her. Just stop
Salmon: Easier said than done. I can’t stop thinking about her so I won’t
Joshua: She is only kind. She is not for any one man
Salmon: You surprise me. I thought you had a deeper hearing than you are showing now. Maybe you don’t want to hear what is being said
Joshua: (Looks at him and says nothing)
Salmon: You say a lot without saying anything. When you say nothing, it only means you don’t want the word in your heart to reach the earth. You learnt it from Moses. I’ve learnt it from you. But if God says something, should we not hear it even if we don’t like the sound of it?
Joshua: I keep quiet when I am not sure. Then I watch to figure out if what my heart is saying is not destructive to the greater good. If it is from God and yet does not sound good to me, then I conclude that it can only be meant to bring about a greater good. So it is best to watch and pray. (Suddenly, with irritation, he adds) Salmon. In those situations, remember that Moses taught us to pray long and hard. While praying, we should be strong to say that if what you are hearing and feeling is from your own lusts and not from God, then God should dismantle the nests that feed the lust. It becomes a contest between our fears and faith, our limited will and His greater vision. And because He leads us like an eagle with its young, He will remove any nest that will frustrate our growth. This is where we are thrown out beyond the comfort zone
Salmon: (Starts laughing uncontrollably and Joshua joins)
Joshua: What’s tickling you like that?
Salmon: I was taken back to Moses’ recount of the time he stood facing the red sea and saw the Egyptian army coming in hot pursuit! What a day that was! And what a day we faced ourselves before the flooded Jordan. Our own faith was tested, Joshua. It was not enough for God to put Moses through that strange leadership test of strength and assurance of God’s help. He did it to us at the Jordan. To each generation, to each man, his own test. Oh!
Joshua: Unhuh, unhuh. I still can’t stop shaking when I remember these huge tests. Goodness! How is one supposed to survive these tests of faith before seeming impossibilities? But here we are, Salmon. We are yet to meet impossibilities that could not be tackled through faith, calm assurance, confidence and strategies. Not a sea. Not a flood. There is always a way. It seems that the greater the challenge, the more unconventional and ‘ordinary’ the strategy is. Imagine speaking boldly to a situation such as a sea, and it makes a way for you. But it is not words that made the way in the Jordan flood. It was taking the ark on our shoulders, and wading into the thick of what we feared. It still made a way. There is always a way.
Salmon: And that is how I know that I shouldn’t escape my feelings for this prostitute just because it seems an impossible arrangement. What is impossible before a man with a future? Why do I still love her? My mind can’t let her go. She is like a razor blade in my belly. So I must tackle that emotional hill too. Challenges don’t only come in physical form. Many are emotional. Should we ignore those?
Joshua: Just take it easy. That’s all I’m saying. She is a prostitute. She betrayed her people. She is beautiful. This is a recipe for disaster. It’s that simple
Salmon: There is nothing simple if you are invested in it. There is nothing simple if it has relevance for your future. (Looks quietly at Joshua for a long time and walks away). You just hurt me, Joshua. Thank you. I have heard enough.
Joshua: (Shouts after him) Salmon!! A leader has to accept hard truths. You can’t let your feelings define any moments and actions. A leader thinks far and sees through all gates. A leader must birth only truth and good. For many things come through to the group if a leader opens the door. A leader must be ready for all forms of consequences. What consequences can a union like this bring? This is where I am, Salmon. I can’t afford to be anywhere else. You are my brother, and you have become my best friend. But I can’t afford to be blinkered, Salmon.
Salmon: All you have said is true. But each man carries his own burden of personal leadership. You may be directing all of us. But each one of us has our personal bags to carry. A person is not only made up of intellect. We are made up of emotions. I have fallen in love with a prostitute who helped us. And she is willing to denounce her gods and follow me and mine. Do I sacrifice my joy for all the children of Jacob when I do not even know if anyone would sacrifice for me? Or that she really must not be accepted here? The landscape of life is vast, Joshua. It is not cut and dried. There are different situations around every corner. So let’s watch and pray. And examine this from every angle with a gentle and quiet heart. She said that she chooses to honor our God, because she is convinced of His greatness. Does that not make her a person of conviction and loyalty to those convictions? She brought her whole family into the house because we told her to. Is that not a person of values of love and faithfulness, of dedication, capacity and action? When I see her, I see a soldier with works of the heart. We may hold spear and javelin. But she holds strength, insight and discretion. For how long can a person fight? When the noise of battle winds down, you must build human living with those who know how to work with humanity. This is where I also am
Joshua: I hear you. We will keep praying. I am retreating for some time. I need to clear my mind, think through the next line of action and give God the opportunity to guide me.
Salmon: I will hold the fort while you are gone. You were Moses’ helper. I am your helper. We have an assignment and a duty. We will do the work
(They clasp each other’s elbow)
SCENE TWO (JOSHUA IS STRUTTING UP AND DOWN A WOODED AREA. BIRDS WHISTLING)
Joshua: (Looks up startled. Looking around) why does this place seem so full of presence when I’m here alone? Lord? Are you here with me? I wait on you Lord. You have been so silent since we crossed the Jordan and circumcised the men. It is time to do something. To attack, before we are attacked. But I know you are with me. Please, what is the battle strategy for so formidable a target? This seemingly impregnable fortress? Nothing is too hard for you. Not seas, deserts and floods. We came through them by your mighty arm. Lord we are here. All the way from Egypt. The land is truly flowing with milk and honey. And fruits, and gold, and treasure. But just like the beginning, the battles don’t seem to end. When do we rest? What do we do now? Just as you said … (notices a man standing a distance off)
Joshua: Who are you! Who are you! Speak up!
THE CAPTAIN: And who are you? Do you know who you are?
Joshua: I know who I am. I am the captain of the armies of Jacob’s tribes. Who are you?
THE CAPTAIN: As captain of the host of the Lord I have come
Joshua: Captain of the hosts of the Lord?! The hosts of the Lord?
THE CAPTAIN: The starry hosts, angelic hosts, human hosts, hosts of hills and mountains and seas, hosts of creation
Joshua: (prostrates) What must I do, Lord?
THE CAPTAIN: Take off your shoes. You cannot be self-centered and know what to do. Take off your shoes. Wherever you meet with God, that ground is holy. Your shoes and identity have no place there
Joshua: Speak Lord
THE CAPTAIN: First, you cannot do it alone. Mobilize all your qualified people to walk with you to take that city, and take the ark, for that has your law and regulations, and symbols of authority. Second, you cannot do it by immediate action. Circle that city six times. Notice all its weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats and note them for strategic interventions in those critical places. Third, you cannot do it without discretion. Each circling must be in absolute quiet, attentiveness and focus. Fourth, develop marathon strength for the day of take over, because it will take strength and fortitude to finish the penetration of a fortress like that. You will develop the strength from the endurance of marching for six days. Fifth, learn to take a break between each cycle of careful reconnaissance, observation, intelligence gathering and strategic thinking. The break is to give you rest, allow you to evaluate what you saw and determine what you will do with it. Sixth, never take your eyes off the prize. Work at it until it is over. Seventh, on the day you attack, do it with strength, power, a loud voice and absolute confidence. Have you understood?
Joshua: I have, Captain. And what else….
(Joshua looked around. The CAPTAIN was gone)