The Bible has a word for ‘showing up’ or ‘being there’. It is ‘faithfulness’. It is a fruit of the Spirit and is the deepest part of God’s very nature. There’s something to be said for showing up or being there. It means you can be counted on to be present and involved. It means you have given careful thought to any other options of places you may be or things you may want to do. You have clearly chosen and decided that this is where you want to be and what you want to do. I was always impressed with those students who had perfect attendance in school. They didn’t miss one day of school for the entire school year. Even if they didn’t feel well that day, they got up, got dressed, and went to school anyway.
There was a young man named Joshua who was Moses’ assistant. It is not known just when Joshua became Moses’ assistant. Joshua was one of the Israelite slaves delivered from Egyptian bondage. He had a relationship with Moses early on in the Israelite wonderings in the wilderness. Moses and Joshua could very well have had begun their relationship while in Egypt. The first mention of Joshua is in Exodus 17 when Moses called on Joshua to lead in the fight against the Amalekites. That was the incident when Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms until the Lord brought the Israelites victory.
The next time we hear of Joshua is in Exodus 24:12-13. ‘Then the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them." So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.’ Moses with Israel had come to Mt. Sinai in the third month after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt. Israel spent about a year camped there at Mt. Sinai receiving instructions from God.
Continue reading in Exodus 24:15-18. ‘Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.’ Moses was not alone when he went up Mt. Sinai. Joshua, his assistant, was with him. Why is this significant? Joshua was Moses’ assistant right from the beginning of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. What Moses saw and heard, Joshua saw and heard. What Moses experienced, Joshua experienced. Joshua was there. Joshua kept showing up everyday doing what he was assigned to do.
Joshua experienced the Presence of the Lord just as Moses did. This made a significant impact on Joshua’s life. God’s Presence became something Joshua craved. In that first experience on Mt. Sinai, Moses and Joshua waited together for six days before the Lord spoke out of the cloud. Will we wait even six minutes in God’s Presence to hear Him speak to us? Will we just ‘be there’, waiting? They ended up staying in God’s Presence for forty days and nights straight. This is when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the first time. It was a big moment. And Joshua was there the whole time, waiting and watching, serving Moses.
A few months later, when the tabernacle, or tent of meeting, was built, Moses met with God in the tent of meeting. Guess who was there with Moses? Yes, Joshua. Listen to Exodus 33:8-11. ‘Whenever Moses went out to the Tent of Meeting, all the people would get up and stand in the entrances of their own tents. They would all watch Moses until he disappeared inside. As he went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and hover at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses. When the people saw the cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, they would stand and bow down in front of their own tents. Inside the Tent of Meeting, the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting.’ Joshua was not waiting outside while Moses went into the tent of meeting to be with God. Joshua went inside the tent with Moses and was there in the Presence of YHWH. Joshua was so captured by the Presence of God that he didn’t want to leave that intimate spiritual place. Joshua kept showing up and he received more from God than he imagined he would. He was just assisting Moses.
Eventually the Israelites journeyed on to Canaan to live in the land promised to them by God. When they arrived there, Moses sent twelve spies to go in and come back with a report. Joshua was one of those twelve spies. What they were asked to do was very different from camping out at Mt. Sinai where it was just them and God. But whatever was called for on that day, Joshua showed up for his assignment and purposed in his heart to do the best he could. He faithfully carried out his duties and brought back a good report. Ten of the other spies brought back an evil report that it was too much for them, too big, and too hard. The people even wanted to kill Joshua and Caleb for suggesting they go in and take the land. So much for showing up that day. But Someone was watching and listening. The same One whom Moses and Joshua had been in His Presence for the past year. God made sure no one touched His faithful ones.
Showing up and being faithful day after day doesn’t mean you aren’t going to face some trials and hardships. Others will make decisions that will affect you and possibly even bring suffering into your life. How will you deal with it on this ordinary, I-didn’t-plan-on-this-happening day? Will you be caught by surprise or will you be ready? Will you be fearful and complain or will you look to God for strength and wisdom? Will you remember God’s faithfulness to you and all the times He made a way for you when there was no way? Or will you look at how impossible this is and how persuaded you are that God is not going to help us this time? What did Joshua do? He practiced showing up. He practiced not just being there, but being there with his whole heart. He lived on purpose, every day. He was not a victim of his circumstances. He saw life through the promises and faithfulness of His God. He had a great hope and because of that he had a great faith. He was a fighter and a champion. Joshua knew that the only reason he wanted to keep showing up was because God Himself had repeatedly showed up and proved His faithfulness over and over again.
This is Joshua’s life for the past couple of years. His biggest challenge is yet to come.
God tells Moses and the Israelites that they are NOT going into the promised land. Their children will instead be the ones to enter in. In the meantime, the Israelites will wander in the desert for forty years until this adult generation all dies off. Joshua had to face the reality that even though he believed and was ready to enter the land now, he was not going to enter in now. Decisions others made severely impacted Joshua’s life and brought great pain and suffering to him. What did Joshua do? He kept showing up. Everyday. He lived with all his heart toward His God. He watched his family and friends grow old and die. He didn’t make a plan to break away and do his own thing. He stuck with God’s plan. Joshua had been a slave in Egypt for forty years. He was miraculously delivered from slavery and had the opportunity of a lifetime to have his own land and home and live in prosperity and peace. For the first time in his life he had lived in freedom from slavery. The writing was on the wall. He was now being sentenced, in a sense, to forty more years of living in less-than, harsh conditions. You hear no complaints from him. He is glad to be free from Egypt’s bondage. No matter how terrible the wilderness is, it’s still not slavery in Egypt. Joshua chooses to live on purpose for His good God. He still has hope.