Reach Beyond Your Grasp—four words that ought to rock our respective worlds. But too many of us too easily settle for what is within reach, and as a result miss out on what great and mighty and even miraculous things God would do. Perhaps a reflection on Joshua and the army of Israel would challenge us toward something beyond our reach. Consider, then, that ancient season when the Israelites were successfully fighting the Amorite kings who were harassing Israel’s allies at Gibeon. Israel “struck them with a great blow at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah” (Joshua 10:10). The Amorite kings were quickly losing ground; it was clear that by messing with the Gibeonites they had barked up the wrong tree. They truly underestimated Israel’s resolve in coming to Gibeon’s defense. They were being routed, not only by the Israelite armies, but by God himself through God’s own unique devices: the LORD threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died (Josh. 10:11). The Amorite militaries were being soundly defeated. The people of Israel were being highly vindicated. The campaign was a resounding success!
But success of this scale was not enough. Joshua, Israel’s great leader, was not satisfied. He did not want to merely reach for what could be grasped. He did not want to merely settle for what was within reach. He wanted to reach beyond his grasp. And so he offered God a (preposterous) request. Read carefully from Joshua 10:12-14:
At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.
Joshua wisely knew that God could and would do more if only he and his people entrusted themselves unto God. And what a great leader he was—insisting that they seek God for even greater things, sending a clear message to the Israelites that God could be counted on for far more than the people even understood. The victories that had already come about, and those that would be sought later, needed to be rooted in a firm belief that God could do exceedingly more than what was humanly possible. Thus it was the Joshua reached beyond his grasp, and God responded in a radical way, making the sun and the moon to stand still, thus allowing the great victory to go to still a greater height. The LORD obeyed the voice of a man.
For what are you reaching? As a father or a wife or a student or a business leader or a pastor or a teacher? Do you settle for what is easily attainable? Do you only reach for what is within your grasp—not stretching yourself beyond . . . well . . . yourself? Would you be willing to declare today that you will no longer merely pursue what is easily attainable? Would you be willing today to decide that you will no longer be content living within your successes? Will you tell yourself and those around you that beginning today you will step out and cast yourself upon God’s mercies and expect even greater things of him, things that stretch you, that scare you, that compel you to move more closely toward his bosom?
Will you reach beyond your grasp?
For that dream of being a more intentional husband? For that dream of influencing your realm for Christ? For that dream of writing that book or finishing that degree or running for that office or painting that picture or going on that mission trip?
You get the point. The question is: will you reach for it?
“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The preceding material is from Pastor Matthew’s devotional entitled, “Reach Beyond Your Grasp,” presented on July 12, 2011, at the all-staff breakfast meeting at Bethel Church.