Joshua’s Legacy - The Struggle for Faithfulness
The expatriate population is full of truly remarkable people. One particular group bears the challenges of expat living with extra resiliency – TCKs (third culture kids). Many of them have spent the majority of their formative years living in foreign lands, and they are forever changed by the experience. This is especially true of those who share the Christian faith. When talking with them, I find they have similar stories about living out their faith in other cultures. They say they draw strength from relationships – their relationship with God, their families and their support group of friends. It is within that cocoon they find godly counsel, safety and security. As a result, their faith and dependence on Christ increases.
The real challenge for them comes when they eventually return to their home countries, usually for university. Suddenly, the safety nets are gone. The steady, wise counsel they’ve come to rely on is no longer readily available. With no one to fill the void, they are adrift in a sea of temptations. Living a life of faith becomes much tougher. One student told me, “When I left home for college, I really had to own my faith. My walk with Christ had to become more disciplined and personal. It was a struggle.”
There is another particular group of expatriates who faced this same situation thousands of years ago. Perhaps they are the most famous expats ever – the nation of Israel. After their extended wandering in the wilderness, they crossed the Jordan River and occupied the Promised Land. They were home, but Moses was gone, having passed the mantle of leadership on to their beloved Joshua. He guided this “family” as a nation according to the will of God. Under his firm leadership, they faced challenges faithfully and prospered. But then, Joshua, 110 years young, also went the way of the earth (Joshua 23:14). And Scripture is clear about the legacy of leadership he left behind.
“Israel worshiped Yahweh throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works Yahweh had done for Israel.” (Joshua 24:31, HCSB)
For a time, the nation of Israel was carried along by Joshua’s legacy. But eventually, with no one to fill the void, they drifted into apostasy. Samuel, the author of Judges, tells us,
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.” (Judges 17:6, HCSB)
When a critical time came for Israel to own their faith, they failed. Ultimately, the book of Judges paints a picture of their oppression and apostasy as God appoints judges, one after another, to govern and deliver them from their enemies.
Israel found out just how tough it was to follow God’s laws when their trusted leadership was gone. Just like our expatriate young people when they leave the nest. Indeed, like all of us. But there is one big difference… we have the Holy Spirit that indwells each and every believer. And Christ has given us everything we need for life and godliness. The challenge is to remain faithful everyday in the midst of trials, the temptations of the world and our own natural waywardness.
Sometimes the character sketches in Judges are like looking in a mirror. I see my own reflection in their struggle for faithfulness. It begs the question, “What kind of legacy of faith do I want to leave behind in the world?”
Will I do what is right in my own eyes? Or will I serve the Lord all the days of my life so my family will know the deeds the Lord has done for me?
I am chastened…and challenged. How about you?
“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” ~ Jim Elliot
Written by Shirley Ralston