Joshua 22:1-9 – What A Day On the Back Porch of a Cabin in the Smoky Mountains!

Posted: July 14, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
Tags: , , ,

Joshua 22:1-9

The Eastern Tribes Go Home

I apologize for missing a daily post yesterday. However, Elena and I are currently in the middle of spending four days and three nights in a cabin in the mountains above Pigeon Forge, TN. It is about a 3 ½ hour ride from our home in Lyman, SC. Eastern Tennessee is a mountainous region at the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountain chain. This area of the Appalachian chain is known, of course, as the Great Smoky Mountains. Because of the height and frequency of the mountains here, they get this bluish smoky hue to them. And our mini-vacation up here has been a surprisingly, amazing spiritual experience that was unexpected when I booked the cabin about six weeks ago. Sometimes, we just need to stop the hamster wheel and get off and just catch our breath.

 

All of this time here was God-ordained and God-enforced. There are several reasons that I say that. First, before we left home, my wife, the wonderfully in-touch with God spiritual woman that she is, asked me to come up with a devotional that we could do together as a couple while we had this time alone away from it all. Second, there is just the sheer beauty and majestic of the Smoky Mountains. Third, we chose on Thursday not to do any sightseeing and just enjoy the cabin – not just a place to leave our stuff while we were off sightseeing and then just come back to the cabin and sleep.

 

To talk about the first thing which is my wife’s request that we do a devotional together while we were out of town together. Because of busy schedules back home and all the things that we are into back there in Lyman through church, my secular job, and through my doctoral program studies, we honestly only have time to do our individual Bible studies (my blog each morning and Elena having devotional time via text with her gal pals). Then, it’s off to our individual days – my job, Elena with community outreach ministries and administrative help at the church and her duties as a housewife at our home. Then, its back home for time to chat for a little while. Then, it’s me down to the cellar of our house to work out lifting weights and aerobic exercises in an attempt to reduce the weight I carry around that is over and above my ideal weight. It’s Elena cooking up one of her wonderful dinners that, in part, has put the weight on me! Just kidding. Then, it’s me off to my study to do my daily ration of reading for this semester of my doctor of ministry program. Then, it’s Elena to clean up the pots, pans, and dishes from dinner and then settle on the couch to watch TV as I study. Then, it’s me back in the living room with Elena to watch about an hour of TV together before it’s time to go to bed. Rinse and repeat. The cycle begins again the next day. Often our weekends are jampacked with things to do, including an occasional visit to see our almost 1 year old granddaughter and to visit my daughter and son-in-law. Life is just busy right now. Though I am not complaining about that, it just is. We thrive on our ability to still be fully active and engaged in a busy lifestyle. We know that it will come to an end someday because we are at that age where we are watching our parents being debilitated by the ravages of aging.

 

So, this flippant idea of getting away not to our favorite place (a beach anywhere, any place) but to a mountain retreat was unique. Then, add to that my wife yearned for us to have devotional time together as a couple made this trip even more unique. We don’t have time for that usually. It was an important request. I think it was a God-ordained request. The initial problem that I had as the husband in our relationship was what to pick as a devotional for us to do together as a couple. The Lord put it on my heart for us to do an examination of the Lord’s Prayer. When we first started leading a small group about five years ago, we started with a study of the Gospel of Matthew. During that process, I had put together an analysis of the Lord’s Prayer. So, God put it on my heart to pull it back out for my and Elena’s devotional time together while are here. We have spent the last two mornings going over the Lord’s Prayer. What we must remember as I had learned five years ago is that what we call the Lord’s Prayer is really not a prayer in and of itself. It is Jesus’ instructions to us on how we should pray when we pray. Breaking down the Lord’s Prayer into 8 phrases and really studying them is a real eye-opener. So many times, we recite the Lord’s Prayer without thinking as it has often become this robotic thing we say without even thinking about the words. Breaking it down into its phrases will really teach you a lot about the honor, respect, humility and dependence upon God with which we should approach our Father when we pray:

 

  1. Our Father
  2. Who Art In Heaven
  3. Hallowed by Thy Name
  4. Thy Kingdom Come
  5. Thy Will Be Done On Earth as it is in Heaven
  6. Give Us This Day our Daily Bread
  7. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
  8. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

 

We really had some vibrant discussions around these eight phrases in the Lord’s Prayer and we walked today remembering how we should approach God (first three phrases) and how we should act in relationship to God (second five phrases) when we pray. It is a reminder of the order of the relationship – God then us and how we are dependent upon Him. We sometimes forget this fact when we pray and treat God as if He is our buddy or as if He is a vending machine. The Lord’s Prayer is our blueprint for how we should pray. I am glad that Elena was influenced by the Holy Spirit to request that we do this devotional time together as a couple. It was so good to have these conversations one on one (not in a group of friends or in public church setting) about God and how we should approach. We would not have had this time if we had not chosen to take time out, to have a time of rest, to have a time of peace. It was unique in our experience together as a couple. But it required taking time out to stop.

 

The second and third thing that is striking is that we are here in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the time alone with my wife. God enforced my appreciation of this beautiful place by its sheer magnitude as well. Up here in the mountains way above the valley where Pigeon Forge lies below the internet in this cabin is OK for internet surfing but if you have to do higher level things liked signing into your company’s VPN to run network resources, forget about it! It does not have the consistent signal strength or horsepower to fuel remote computing. So, I finally had to tell all the folks that I deal with in California and South Carolina on my job was that all I could do was answer emails. If they needed me to doing anything in our ERP system, it was going to be impossible. So, for the first time in almost a decade when on vacation, I actually took the day off. Elena and I then decided, too, that we weren’t going anywhere. We had a jacuzzi on the back porch and back porch with a beautiful view. We turned the thermostat on the jacuzzi down to 58 degrees so that the heater would not turn on and we had cool water to sit in. We were like let’s just sit here and relax in the cool water and look out at the mountains all day. Snacks are in the cabin. Cold drinks in the fridge. And outdoor furniture to sit on when we wanted to take a break from the water. A restroom right inside a few steps away. No crowds to deal with. No lines to stand in. Just being. Just doing nothing but observing God’s creation and having long conversations that we rarely have time for anymore. It was throwback to when we were dating back in the Rock Hill, SC days when we lived in the same building of the same apartment complex. We used to have long conversations there and just observing the nature just outside the deck at Elena’s ground floor apartment. We could not have asked for a better day to do this. It was beautiful day outside. The weather in the region took a break from the 90 degree temps/75% humidity that we have been suffering through in the South. The temperature yesterday was in the low 80’s and very low humidity for once. We just enjoyed the beauty of what is God’s creation in a low pace, low impact way. We could not have done this without stopping and resting. Just stopping. Combine that we our discussion of the first three phrases of the Lord’s Prayer about remember who God is when we pray and the beauty of the scenery. It was a highlight day for our marriage. We could not have done this without stopping.  Just stopping.

 

These are the things that I thought about this morning as I read through Joshua 22:1-9 where the eastern tribes get to go home. After all the hustle and bustle of conquering the promised land, suffering and sweat and tears of war. It was time to go home and rest. God will call His people back to the business of being God’s people but for right now it was time to go home to rest and reconnect with those who are important to them – their families – and to reconnect to the land that was theirs. With that in mind, let’s read through it now together:

 

22 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh 2 and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. 3 For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. 4 Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. 5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

 

6 Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. 7 (To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan, and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them, 8 saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth—with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing—and divide the plunder from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.”

 

9 So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses.

 

In this passage, we see that, before the conquest of the Promised Land had begun, these tribes were given their land on the east side of the Jordan River. However, before they could settle down, they to first promise to help the others tribes conquer the land west of the Jordan. They had patiently and diligently carried out their duties. Joshua commended them for doing just that. At last, they were permitted to return to their families and build their new cities and towns. It is not God’s intention for us to be working all the time. It is His intention for us to have times of rest and peace. It was ordained in this manner from the beginning of the universe, when God Himself rested after creation.

 

As for me, the takeaway is the synchronicity of this passage with what Elena and I are doing here in the Smoky Mountains. We so needed this. We so needed yesterday especially. We needed time to reconnect with God. We needed to observe His grandeur. We needed to study together on what our proper relationship with God is individually and as a couple. We needed time to worship God together in this beautiful, serene, secluded place to remember who God is what our relationship to Him is. We needed the time together to reconnect with each other as a couple. We needed time to just talk with no appointments on the calendar. No places we had to be. No things we had to do. No study. No work. No thing. Nothing to do but spend time together. Reconnecting with each other in the most important relationship of our lives – marriage. We need to take the time to just stop. Just stop. It was time to rest. It time to unplug and just be together in God’s great creation. And be thankful. And be humbled before God.

 

When we leave here, there will be new battles to face. New things to have to be done. We will face the day to day monotony of living the 21st century life. But sometimes you have to stop. Just stop. And see God and worship. Just stop and see each other. Just stop.

 

 

Amen and Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s