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Where is your Canaan?

When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel .
JOSHUA 2:6-10 

This wonderful passage inserted in the middle of Judges describes the Joshua generation which served God faithfully. They stands in sharp contrast to the generations that followed who did not know the God of Israel.  The Joshua generation served God by immersing themselves to the task that God had called them to.

After Joshua’s speech at Shechem, the people begun the process of taking full possession of their inheritance that had been allocated to them by Joshua. This process continued after Joshua died culminating in that question at the start of Judges where the people now ask afresh for God's leading. Here what we have is a summary of the Joshua generation as "no spin" generation. They walked the talk by obeying God’s command to take possession of the land.

Obeying God for them meant fighting to kill Canaanites in God’s name! This was dangerous and would have cost many of them their lives on the battlefield. God today is not commanding His people to kill in his name. Instead God has come and died for us so that we may have life in Jesus. Our God dies on the cross for us!  What God asks is to taking the spiritual victory He has already won in Jesus and share it with people all around us. We are to proclaim the victory of Jesus everywhere in Canaan!

Where is your Canaan? Your Canaan is that place God has placed you where you regularly meet those who don’t know Jesus. Those who who do not follow Jesus are your Canaanites. Take Jesus to them! Taking Jesus to them is not about shouting Jesus to everyone. It means allowing the life of Christ to shine in and through you in tough times as well as in easy times. It is about living out the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience and kindness, where God has uniquely placed you.

Mark Green in great book, Fruitfulness on the Frontlines, tells the story of Louise who worked as PA for 3 years to the most unreasonable boss in Buckinghamshire. The boss was bad-tempered and very rude to others. Everyday, before Louise goes to work she prays to God for strength. She prays that the Boss would change and even become a follower of Jesus. But as days pass, the man never changes. He never even repents. Louise feels like a failure! Eventually she decides she can’t take it anymore and she quits. She feels she has let God down.

A few weeks later, she gets call from the woman who has replaced her. The woman says, “This man is impossible. I can’t work with him. I’ve been here three weeks and I’m already thinking of quitting. But I talked to a couple of people and they told me to give you a call. They said you did a fantastic job, that you were always gracious and upbeat, despite his impossible ways. Louise, how did you do it?”. Louise is totally surprised. How did she do it? Well, first of all, she did not know she had done anything at all. She thinks she failed. But all along it turns out she was modelling Jesus and living out her faith in the Canaan of Buckhamgshire. That’s how she did it. And that registered with everyone around her. 

Very often when we allow the life of Christ to flow through us, God opens opportunities for us to share the good news of Jesus with people watching us. So, here is the question: where has God given you an opportunity to model Jesus to Canaanites? May be it’s your local supermarket where you shop regularly and know the staff well. May be it’s the school where you work and know all the staff – it gives you a tremendous opportunity to show grace, love and patience in a tough environment.  Where do you meet Canaanites often? Take Jesus there by simply being Jesus to them and when they ask why you do what you do, you can say “because it is Jesus in me”.

The Joshua generation legacy is that they served God with “all feet in” literary. These people were buried in the land. They brought God to their homes. They served Him from the womb to the tomb! So it was not simply in defeating the Canaanites it was also in how they lived with each other. In the same way, we are to serve God not simply in spiritual Canaan. It is also where God has given us opportunities to minister to other believers, our fellow tribesmen!

Some of us are called to serve fellow Christians in very difficult situations. You may be caring for a spouse who is unwell or simply caring for an older parent. That is where God has called you to. Yes, it is hard but that is the context for your extraordinary God-glorifying service, even if not many other people see! So like the Joshua generation you continue to serve God there with all feet in!

The lessons from the post-Joshua generation is that we must serve God because we are His people. And we must do this at the frontline where God has placed us. So as you continue the journey of life ask God to enable you to serve him faithfully and joyfully as Joshua and the elders did.  

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017

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