Follow the Leader

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“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Joshua 5:13-14

Being the parent of one child, I had like zero knowledge of how to grow another person in a way that makes them easily manageable; there was no older sibling of his that I had already practiced on. I did have a monthly subscription to Parents magazine that I stored under my bed (I’m not kidding – each issue for many years. I always thought, what if I need to know what is in that magazine for how to deal with a 7 year-old, and I didn’t read it because Noah was 3 when I got it? Best to save it for the next four years under my bed just in case. I am SO THANKFUL for how the internet has changed my world).

When we were shopping, after he was too big to happily sit in the shopping cart, basically I was holding his hand all around the store, going where he led me, looking at the things he stopped at, and sneaking in my things as we went from one of his places to the next. This was especially true if it was something my husband was shopping for and Noah and I were just along for the fun.

I’m not proud of this. At all. Even as I type this it sounds ridiculous. Even ducks at the park have figured out how to do this right. The mama duck just goes along her way, with 9 babies all trailing behind – in a neat line, no less. They follow her.

I didn’t see it then, but I was doing it all backwards.

I wasn’t supposed to be following him. My child was supposed to be following me.

I think we get a little mixed up this way with Jesus too, sometimes.

Rather than following Jesus and His plan for our lives, we ask Him to tag along behind with our plans, asking Him to pick up all the things we drop along the way – things we weren’t supposed to be carrying in the first place.

He isn’t supposed to be following us. We are supposed to be following Him.

Joshua was reminded of this in the Old Testament.

New to the job, he had just led the Israelites out of the desert, across the Jordan River, through Gilgal and was nearing Jericho. Scripture says he saw a man (spoiler alert – it is actually either God in human form, Christ, or an angel) standing in front of him with a sword drawn.

“Are you for us or our enemies?” Joshua asked him.

I love his answer.

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Joshua got it. He immediately fell down in reverence.

The notes in my Bible tell me this : “Joshua and Israel must know their place – it is not that God is on their side; rather they must fight God’s battles.”

Jesus isn’t following us. We are followers of His.

So many times I pray for God to be with me as I do this thing, or to work that other thing out for me. I make my plans and expect God to be right behind me in case I need help with whatever the next thing is that I am doing, when it should be the other way around.  I should be following God, seeing what He is doing and how I can play a part in it.

Daily, I need to be looking for God’s direction, and I sometimes forget this important detail.

Join me in beginning our days, asking God what He wants from us, being open and willing for whatever He has in store. His plans are always so much better than ours are anyway.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

About Jen Chapman

She is a wife to Shawn for 19 years and counting, and a mom to Noah, and together they live out their story in their tiny town of Barboursville, WV. She is a freelance writer and a blogger at girlmeetsgrace.com. She has a slightly dangerous addiction to cheese and a love of all things pink, and has no fewer than three books with her at any given time. She has seen God’s grace redeem her big-time and wants everyone to know it and experience it for themselves. She wants more than anything to give praise and honor to Jesus, and point people to Him.

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