Pastor Joe Miller IV
I remember the goals and dreams I had for myself when I was young. I wanted nothing more than to be a husband and a dad and not just that, but the best. Looking back, I can't say I was the best, but I sure tried. Soon after marriage, Jesse came along, and then Joe, then Jordan, and finally Jolene, our youngest. I loved being their dad, taking them fishing and hunting, playing ball, going to all their activities, riding bikes, playing games, you name it - I just loved being with them.
During this time in my life, I often wondered about tomorrow and what the future would hold. The thought didn't consume me, but knowing about the uncertainty that life brings sometimes, I remember thinking if I can make it to 50 years old, that would be enough. That I could have raised all the kids into adulthood, and they would be able to survive on their own. But then I hit 48 and realized there were new goals and dreams, and because of a new season called 'grandparenting' (sometimes I even think it's better and more enjoyable than parenting), I suddenly realized 50 years would not be enough. That maybe 60 would be a more sufficient age to better enjoy and influence my family.
Well, here I am again, two days before my 60th birthday (May 27) thinking maybe 70 should be the new goal! After all, the six grandchildren we have now probably want to spend more time with their pap. My daughter-in-law, Kassandra, and Joe are expecting, and my middle daughter, Jordan, and her husband, David, are expecting their first child, so it only makes sense that I am around for another 10 years, right? Only God knows.
Well, I'm not the only one that wanted to be part of a future and enjoy its blessings.
And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.
This story actually began in Numbers 20. The children of Israel complained to Moses about the lack of water. Moses then went to God who then told Moses to speak to the rock in front of the assembly, and it shall give forth water. But instead, Moses struck the rock twice committing the sin of rebellion and exempting him from entering the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 3: 23, 27 we see Moses imploring God one more last time to allow him to enter the Promised Land with God telling him no, and don't bring up the matter again. But to charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go. Joshua, the younger successor to Moses, was the one God chose to conquer the land of Canaan. Moses' reign would end, and Joshua's would begin. But Moses had a huge part in the influence and in Joshua's preparation of this charge. In verse 28, God commanded Moses to charge Joshua to go over before this people and inherit the land.
The point I want to make is the responsibility that Moses had to Joshua as an experienced, battle-worn, life tested wise elder to 'encourage and strengthen' Joshua for the upcoming battles that he is about to experience and prepare him for the future - which Moses will have no part in except for his influence in that day. In a day and age where the elder and wiser are good at judging and condemning, we should selflessly be investing in the future and using our experiences in encouraging and strengthening those who will take the message of the Gospel to a time and place we can't and the value of church and family even after we are gone.
Encouragement gives support. When I was a kid, we had clotheslines - a thin piece of rope strung tight between two stationary poles or trees. When mom was done with the laundry wash, she would take the wet clothes and place them over the rope to dry. But too often, the weight of the wet clothes would be too much of a strain on the rope, and it would sag. So, she would place a pole underneath the middle of the rope to support the line because of the weight. The young people of today are in similar situations because of the weight in life, and instead of more weight, they need more support. And when more support is given, more confidence is given and that is the hope that God started with Jesus (He is the hope) and continues through churches like ours at Harvest Baptist Church.
I don't know how much time I have left on this earth, but I don't want to waste one day being a self-centered weight to my children and grandchildren. I want to be a supportive encouragement to them and future generations and the same for our church. I'll be honest - our young pastors and their wives and children and all these young people and their families at our church don't need to be discouraged by us older saints (the world will try hard enough) but they need, like Joshua, our experience, hope, and wisdom to go places and reach people we can't. To God be the glory!