The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. — Exodus 33.11
It can be tempting to think that the names we read in the Scriptures are not, in fact, real people. It’s as though we’ve resigned them to concepts or are somehow symbolic of desired ideals.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Abraham was real. So were Moses, King David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Nehemiah. Peter, James, and John walked the earth as well. Paul? He breathed the Mediterranean air with the rest of them. They all had choices to make in and with their lives. This truth makes their lives and journeys relatable.
In the time I’ve spent allowing the Scriptures to mold my thinking, I’ve noticed that the shortest sentences can contain the most profound truths. Perhaps you have read this verse in Exodus a million times. Maybe, like myself, you have prayed this verse over your life because you too wanted to speak with God “face-to-face, as a friend speaks to a friend.” However, I don’t believe that’s the most profound statement in the verse. I want to focus on the last bit.
Joshua would not leave the tent.
Joshua gets a lot of fame in his namesake book, but his journey to leadership started long before. Moses would enter the tent to meet with God on behalf of Israel while Joshua waited outside. As Moses’ assistant, Joshua was privy to a lot as a tent is by no means sound-proof. I can only imagine the level of trust between Moses and Joshua. After communing with God, Moses would leave the tent of meeting, yet Joshua remained. He would not leave the dwelling place of God’s presence. Joshua lived a surrendered life. I would like to share with you three requirements for living a surrendered life. I believe after we’ve surrendered our grip on the Big Three, then and only then are we released to lead in our spheres of influence.
It Requires Time
If you want to walk with God, the first thing you will need to surrender is being in control of your time. It means that your trusting and waiting isn’t in vain, nor is it a waste of your time. Don’t mishear me: we’re absolutely called to live a life of self-control. After all, it’s a fruit of the Spirit’s presence in our life (see Galatians 5). However, governing yourself well does not mean we don’t live a life marked by divine trust: trust in God, and with that, confidence in His good and perfect timing. This frees us to simply be. Surrendering our timing for His timing allows us to serve where we are no matter what. It frees us to rejoice and celebrate with others as they experience success and breakthrough in their lives because we know that God’s timing is always best.
What does surrendering your time look like? How can you better steward your life in the waiting?
It Requires Choices
After we surrender our time, we quickly learn that we surrendered much more than just that. Isn’t it funny how everything in life has an effect and influence on everything else? It’s all connected. So, when Joshua surrendered his time, he also surrendered his will.
A life with God is overflowing with mercy; it’s also permeated with grace. Though it’s commonly believed that mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin, Scripture says differently. Mercy is receiving what we don’t deserve as well as not receiving what we do deserve. If that’s mercy, then what is grace? Paul defined grace as the supernatural empowerment to live the life we were created to live — to live a life just like Jesus (see Romans 6; Titus 2:11–14).
If we are going to reign in life to our full potential, we need to surrender our will, saying, “Not my will, but Yours.” Surrendering our will consistently puts us on the fast track to spiritual maturity. You might be asking, “What does surrendering my will even mean?” Our will can be defined as the ability and capacity to make a choice. We exercise our will hundreds — if not thousands — of times a day. Joshua made his decision, and we must make ours.
Where are your choices taking you? In what area(s) do you need to surrender your will so that you may embrace God’s?
It Requires Grit
There inevitably comes the point in our surrendered wait where we are tempted to question the process and the timing. This is where the most critical choice is made. How you answer the following question determines the outcome. Will you stick it out, or will you throw in the towel? Perseverance, or grit as I like to call it, is a muscle. It’s something that can be sculpted and strengthened, or left to be soft and weak. It’s something that every human on the planet has to confront in their life.
Joshua indeed faced The Question multiple times in his life. The good news is your yes gets easier the more you say it. We can’t say with certainty what Joshua’s life looked like when Israel wandered the Negev Desert; But we can say that he surrendered his desire and would not leave the tent. Joshua’s daily yes to staying in the presence of God sculpted his destiny and strengthened his grit, and thus shaped him to be the leader he was created to be.
What does your yes look like? How do you strengthen your grit when you’re tempted to throw in the towel?
Released to Lead
Let us get an aerial view of the life of Joshua. He grew up in the presence of God and consequently had God’s vision for things. He was the right hand of Moses and thus learned how leaders lead. He was sent out to survey the Promised Land, and because he had God’s vision, he knew Israel could possess it. After returning from the scouting mission, nearly all of Joshua’s companions were small-minded and terrified; but, because he grew up watching Moses lead, Joshua knew how to declare the truth in the face of opposition. All of Joshua’s life prepared him for his destiny. The same is true for us.
Through the overarching story of God, we see Him ask of those who wish to walk in His presence: will you be faithful and obedient? If we are faithful to Him and obedient amidst the pain and heartache, we will be free to live the life for which we were designed and created. If we are faithful and obedient to His presence, His timing, His desires — if we allow our grit to be sculpted and strengthened — we will be released into our destiny as mature sons and daughters of God who walk powerfully in His kingdom and reign in this life.
What is He saying to you at this moment? What is He inviting you into today? What empowering truth does He have for you on our journey? In what part of life is He empowering you?