When you’re married to a man who took teenagers on adventures through both United States and world history for much of his 38-year teaching career, you often venture to places that others drive right past. In fact, over the years while on vacation, it hasn’t been unusual to find us surrounded by other tourists politely eavesdropping on the history lesson Doug is providing for his family. Although we’ve all teased him about this from time to time, the truth is we all love it and are grateful for the knowledge he’s shared. His stories make nearly every place we visit come alive!
We recently visited the Shenandoah Valley, the site of many Civil War battles in the 1860’s, and found ourselves in front of a field that’s said to have been the location of one of the most spectacular scenes in all of the Civil War. It was in that field that one of the largest cavalry charges to ever take place in the western hemisphere played out. Six thousand Union soldiers on horseback boldly charged the small Confederate battalion and won an easy victory.
As we stood at the site of the Third Battle of Winchester, I pictured thousands of horsemen stampeding toward their enemy, some of whom had been classmates during military academy and many of whom were on foot. As I gazed upon this field, now bordered by a hiking trail, I imagined those moments 160 years ago. As dog-walkers and runners past behind me, I could feel the fear and panic that must have gripped the hearts of the soldiers on foot. I was amazed at how sold out they were to their cause, to their beliefs – and to their leader – to charge on foot directly toward 6,000 men on horseback.
Having just read the opening chapters of the book of Joshua, I thought of Joshua 4:13…
These armed men about 40,000 strong were ready for battle
and the Lord was with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho.
That day the Lord made Joshua a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites and
for the rest of his life they revered him as much as they revered Moses.
God had performed another miracle – the Jordan River had stood “up like a wall” and the Israelites had crossed on dry ground – a riverbank that moments earlier had been overflowing. God’s chosen people were now in the Promised Land, Joshua was their leader, and 40,000 armed warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were ready for battle – in full obedience to their leader, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and sold out to their belief in Him – under the command of Joshua.
“That day the Lord made Joshua a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites” – a man admired, valued, esteemed, and well-regarded –because the life he lived and the choices he made before that day and long afterward – of obedience, humility, pliability, patience, service and sacrifice – allowed him to shepherd well the flock entrusted to his care.
Will the behaviors you’re exhibiting as a shepherd leader – dad, mom, pastor, partner, supervisor – influence others to revere you?