When the Battles Get Old
Today’s scripture selection: Joshua 11-15
Key verses: Joshua 13:1
My office library is filled with Bibles. Somewhere along the line I learned that it’s good to have various versions of these ancient texts, along with their adjacent commentaries. Read them side by side and you soon learn something very important. People disagree with each other about important things. While it would be nice to think we can just sit down with one little book that sums it all up – things aren’t that simple. Scholars of various persuasions and inclinations, dare I say prejudices, do their best to put their arguments and interpretations before us as “gospel truth.” But it takes careful study and prayerful discernment to make heads or tails of it.
Still, many times I find myself pulling a good old King James Version off the shelf. No commentary; no scholar’s prejudice or opinion; just the text. And I sit quietly to read and let the language of the seventeenth century speak to me. Today’s selection was one of those times. And that’s when I came across this lovely turn of phrase:
“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.”
Those words leapt off the page at me. I could identify with them, can’t you? It’s one thing to say Joshua was a man of “advanced” years – it’s quite another to say he was “stricken” by them. Suddenly, I had a very clear picture of this old, faithful warrior – tired of the battles; tired of the bloodshed; tired of always trying to find his way in a world of conflict. And I could see his face, creased with the crevices of life experience; his dulled eyes looking downward as the meaning of the Lord’s words sinks in, “…and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.”
We get tired. We get discouraged. Some days our back hurts a little more than usual or we can’t remember where we put something we had in our hand just a minute ago. We find ourselves in the midst of the same old argument or challenged by the same old problem and we take a deep breath and sigh. We don’t just feel old – we feel “stricken in years.”
When that happens – remember one thing. Joshua wasn’t alone. The Lord was there with Him. They had fought many battles together and there would still be more to come. But he wasn’t alone.
I’d like to think Joshua took comfort in that. I know I do.
Prayer: Lord, when I am battle scarred and world weary, help me to remember that you are at my side, just as you always have been; just as you always will be. AMEN.