My husband and I recently watched a documentary about rock climbing. I was impressed with the diligence and discipline of the climbers. They climbed every day, regularly rehearsing each maneuver—strengthening their bodies, and improving their skill. When they faced the scariest mountains, they were more than ready and able.
In our own lives, we face fearsome mountains of a different sort. In God’s Word, the final speech from Joshua laid out a plan to scale those mountains. He said,
“Be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.” Joshua 23: 6-8 (NLT)
Joshua’s famous final words called the next generation to diligently “practice” their faith. Here’s how we can apply his words to our lives today:
“Be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. (V. 6)
Some translations of the Bible say, “Take diligent heed to follow the Lord’s instructions,” or “Be very courageous to keep and do all that is written.” And even, “Be very strong,” or “Be very firm to keep and do all that is written.”
In other words, we are to obey God’s word with conviction, courage, and consistency.
Because God has been good to you—he has saved you through Jesus. He has broken every chain of sin and condemnation. He has set you free. He has given you power and authority through his Spirit. He has called you and equipped you for a purpose. He has fulfilled promises to you. He is with you, never leaving you nor forsaking you. He is good and worthy, a lavish friend and King.
Because of all that and more, we are invited to love and obey God’s Word—not out of obligation but as an act of worship. We are called to be women of the Word—who soak it up and live it out.
Make sure you do not associate with the other people in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. (V. 7)
Idolatry, the worship of other gods, is not just one type of sin in a list of sins—idolatry is what underpins all sin. Idolatry is the reason we do or believe anything wrong. It is the reason we pursue false things, listen to lies, disobey God, or allow fear to control us. It is the reason we worship anything other than God.
For the Christian woman, this is our everyday battle—who or what is on the throne of our hearts?
Who will we serve during our lonely hours at night? When we’re frustrated or anxious? Who will we serve when we’re racked with worry? When we’re up against a struggle or trial? When we’re feeling bad about ourselves? When our money is tight? When our hearts are broken? When God doesn’t seem to be doing what we think he should? Who or what is on the throne of our hearts?
The moment we expect God to operate on our timelines or bend at our wills is the moment we’ve stopped worshipping him as God. So choose to surrender—this day, this hour, this moment—to him. And remember this: God is compassionate. We can surrender our idolatry to him without fear; the Lord loves when his daughters turn back to him.
Cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. (V. 8)
Perhaps you are battling some difficulty right now. Maybe there’s some internal or external force trying to keep you from clinging to God. Maybe you haven’t stopped fighting long enough to allow God to fight for you.
Let today be the day you drop your weapons and cling to your heavenly Father. May you sense his love surrounding you now. May you hear him speaking over you—I love you, my daughter. I am so proud of you. Keep going. Keep clinging tightly to me.
It’s worth noting that Joshua’s wisdom includes actions for us to take, and also an invitation to abide in God’s love. In other words, our doing for God should always flow from our being in and with God.
These daily practices—obeying, casting down idols, and clinging to Jesus—will make us ready and able to scale any mountain we face.
Aubrey Sampson is the author of Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul and The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament. She and her husband Kevin, and their three young sons, planted Renewal Church in the Chicagoland area, where Aubrey serves on the preaching team. Aubrey is part of the Propel Cohort at Wheaton College and travels around the country speaking and preaching. Follow Aubrey on Instagram and at www.aubreysampson.com.