Max, Joshua, and the Office Space God Used to Change Me
The fiction stacks in the tiny neighborhood library offered nothing compelling. I moved to the next aisle—Shakespeare, Yeats, C.S. Lewis. Then, there it was: New York Times Bestselling Author Max Lucado’s “Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land life Now.”
Not a title that would ordinarily draw me; however, this hot-off-the-press book was familiar. I knew what was in it before it was published. I excitedly pulled “Glory Days” off the shelf, checked it out, and drove home.
Two years ago, while on assignment in San Antonio, I attended author-pastor Max’s church and heard him preach the “Glory Days” series. It was based on the life of Joshua, the warrior who led Israel forward into Canaan, their promised land. Max drew parallels to our modern lives:
— We, too, have a promised land. Canaan represents a life where we are “living from our call and out of our giftedness. We win more than we lose and enjoy increasing faith. It symbolizes the life we can have today!”
— But there are hurdles and battles to be fought. Jericho—a huge city with barbaric people—boasted two concentric circles of walls forty feet high. Impossible to penetrate. The Israelites, however, under Joshua’s leadership, took the city.
With swords and spears?
Brilliant war strategy?
No. God gave it to them.
— It’s the hinge truth of the series. Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan because God told Joshua He was giving it to them. Joshua’s part was to be courageous, keep in communication with God, and lead the Israelites forward. They would be shown how to receive their promised land.
I opened the book with anticipation. Truth be told, I felt frustrated with my life. I knew one of my callings was to disciple people through writing. My gifts and calling, however, were barely functioning.
Was there more God wanted to give me? Finding “Glory Days”—what a happy coincidence.
A third of the way into the book I read: “Just as Jericho was a stronghold in Canaan, we have strongholds in our lives.” Max defined strongholds as “a conviction, outlook, or belief that attempts to interfere with truth.”
And I knew.
I knew why this book was on the library shelves I browsed and why I was reading it now.
I’d just come through an emotionally difficult week. Renovations to our office building were complete and the crew moved us back upstairs to our previous floor. However, the office assignments had changed drastically. Now the department I worked in occupied less space and looked out over the heating and air conditioning equipment on the roof. Even worse, I went from having a large, spacious office of my own to a small room shared with another employee.
My job involved confidential phone conversations. How could this arrangement work?
The message came through to me loud and clear: “You and your job in this organization are of low value. You are at the bottom of the food chain. No one knows or cares about the lives you touch every day. Nor the heart and soul you put into your work.
You. Do. Not. Matter.”
I internalized this message with devastation. And took it even further: I’d better start watching my back. The next move could be out the door. I need to look out for myself.
It took me a couple of days to embrace a more even-handed position and settle into my new surroundings. Yes, my boss was a Vice President I rarely saw, but concluding my job and I were of low value may not be true. Surely, other considerations played into the space assignments.
But in alone times, my pain surfaced. This move dredged up a nagging message I fought to keep buried:
People who have influence or power over me don’t take the time and trouble to get to know me. They don’t realize how I’m trying to do good and make their lives better. Then one day, when I least suspect it, they kick me to the curb. Switch me out.
Bottom line: I’m not worthy of being valued and loved.
Ouch. Here it was again rearing its ugly head.
Truth? God created me and loves me completely, without conditions. I know this from scripture and from my own experience. My journal records countless examples of God’s intervention, provision, and asserting himself into my life.
This “happy coincidence” wasn’t a fluke at all. It was God, once again, showing up to heal and change me. He wanted to take down my stronghold of insecurity and lead me into steady confidence in him and his love.
How did Joshua do it? I wondered as I turned to scripture:
God: ”I will never leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5,9 NIV)
Joshua headed bravely toward Jericho because He knew without a doubt God was with him.
An image of Joshua and the Israelites played in my mind. Could I do the same? Go out into my world of coworkers, family, friends, hairdresser, fellow church-goers, and my get-drunk-every-weekend neighbors with the assurance of God being with me?
I pictured myself
- being authentic and speaking the truth in love and with confidence;
- spotting opportunities to love people in the hallways, parking lots, and checkout stands in my ordinary, daily life; and
- seeing God among us because I wasn’t afraid of what people thought of me.
- As a writer, if I believed God was giving me my promised land, I’d compose words more courageously. I’d trust my heart, knowing God spoke to me there.
Wasn’t God speaking to me now—through books on shelves, shrunken office space, and the painful message He wanted to eradicate?
What more did I need?
I decided to take my promised land. My part is to embrace your presence and your love. Lead me on, God, I’m heading into the battle…