Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Joshua 1:9. Thanks."

The Word for today:
Joshua 1
mark this: Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Some time ago, a man of independent accomplishment and distinction, a man who carries with him his own force field, pulled up next to me in the church parking lot as I was about to go home for the night…
The man had only been to the church a handful of times when he'd surprised me, weeks before this, by showing up for the funeral of a young newlywed woman whom he could only have known distantly, if at all.
The church was so crowded that many of us had to stand throughout a long and lovely memorial. But while I shifted from foot to foot on fatigued legs, I noticed this man stood ramrod straight. He did not move a muscle for an hour and a half, as if he were a young soldier standing in tribute to a fallen comrade. I'm not sure the man even blinked throughout his long vigil. He paid his respects by sheer force of will.
…And so he surprised me even further on that night--the night I began to tell you about--when he glided up next to me in the parking lot. His car was long and sleek and quiet like a puma. Like car, like driver, I thought.
I'm usually not the person sought out at the church. I told him that the pastors had just left, but he said, no--that his question was for me.
Then this man of constant surprises did it again: he told me, matter-of-factly, that he was afraid. He was afraid, he said, and he asked if I could point to a verse from the Bible that would help him face his fear.
I was his connection to Jesus that night. I was nothing more and nothing less. He wasn't looking for advice; he wasn't looking for sympathy. He wasn't looking for a friend. He was looking for someone bigger than I was, because his problem was bigger than he was.
And so I didn't ask him what he feared. I just gave him the word of the LORD:
"Joshua 1:9."
"Joshua 1:9," he repeated aloud to himself, storing it in mind to locate in a Bible later. "Thanks."
He thrust his hand out the window to grasp mine. As he did, he put the car in gear. Retracting his hand as the window came up, he slid soundlessly out of the lot.
It was a solemn and beautiful moment for me, because it was just the way things are supposed to be. A man, poor in spirit (though appearing to be anything but) had come to the church to hear the bare word of the LORD, and he'd gotten what he came for.
I might have prayed for him, but he was gone before I knew it. And so, as his tail lights dissolved in the distance, I spoke into the air the words he'd come to hear:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:9)

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