Being Joshua

I know two people in my life I would qualify as Miracle Men. The first obviously is my son. The fact that he is still alive after being born with what is essentially half a heart is a miracle to me. His survival after having his circulatory system re-arranged is a continuous source of amazement and wonder to me, and so I would call him a Miracle Man. The other man is an uncle in law of mine named Chris. Two to three weeks before my wife and I’s wedding, back in the late 2009 time frame, Chris, who was somewhere about 50 years old at the time, was in his attic doing something. I say something because he doesn’t fully remember what. The reason he doesn’t remember is because he fell through the ceiling, twisted sometime during the roughly 15 foot fall, smashed head-first into the corner of a china hutch, and then fell another 5 feet onto the ground of his dining room. In the course of that accident he fractured his second vertebra, as well as a couple other parts of his spine, and other parts of his body as well, and had a stroke. Go look up what happens to people who fracture their second vertebra. Seriously, go check it out, this blog will still be here when you get back. Right, so now you know. He was gonna be a guaranteed paraplegic, most likely quadriplegic for the rest of his life. Everything about his brain was gonna be iffy. Memory loss, difficulty with motor function even to the muscles he had control over, hell even eating and breathing were not entirely certain.

You might not know this about me, but when I was in college I got a Psychology minor to go with my engineering degrees. I find the topic fascinating and plus it was a great way to keep my GPA afloat after junior year of engineering. I had taken several courses discussing brain function such as Cognitive Psychology and Physiological Psychology and The Psychology of Sense. I knew the basics of brain functioning and what some of the lower levels of the spinal column did. So when I tell you that I shook Chris’s hand after he walked into my mother in law’s house and then told us the story of the accident and recovery only two years after our wedding, you can imagine how stunned I was. I was speechless for a little bit, followed by me blurting out, “Second vertebra?!? But you can walk!?!” This was not an uncommon reaction to Chris. Doctors typically either stand deaf and dumb for a minute after meeting him and reviewing his chart or they flat-out don’t believe he’s the same person as his file. He is a Miracle Man.

The day we got the word about Micah and rushed to Cooks I received a text from Chris’s wife, my wife’s aunt. The gist of it was both a message of encouragement and reminder of what I needed to be doing. And it wasn’t the “pack the bags, get the car, arrange for things” kind of doing. It was the “tend to your family” kind of doing. She had been down this road, she had spent many many waking hours in hospital waiting rooms, at bedside, back and forth to and from therapy. She had been down a very hard road. Her words during this time were important. Like I said, she was encouraging, but she also told me something else. She told me I needed to be Joshua. I admit, at that time, I had no idea what that meant.

I admit it, I haven’t actually ever sat down and read the Bible from front to back. Oh, over the many years of church going I know I’ve heard 90 percent of the New Testament, most of the psalms, and then I’d say I had either read or heard about 40 percent of the Old Testament. But there was a lot of Old Testament I hadn’t read and was mostly unfamiliar with. Joshua is the sixth book of most Christian Bibles, taking place right after Deuteronomy and (spoiler alert) Moses’s death, which occurs at the end of Deuteronomy. Obviously Joshua was important, I mean he had a book in the Bible, but I had no clue what it meant to be Joshua. So for the first few nights we were in the NICU I read the book of Joshua in my spare waking time.

The Book of Joshua chronicles the conquering of The Holy Land by the Israelites after their forty years of wandering in the desert. Joshua is a faithful man, who, back in Numbers and Deuteronomy, was given the task of scouting out the Holy Land before the Israelites invaded. Of the men sent out to scout, only Joshua and one other didn’t quail at the sight of the people they were supposed to conquer. They trusted in God and believed that he would be with them as they were promised. However they got out-voted by the rest of the Israelites who were too scared to cross the Jordan, and so began the wandering in the desert for 40 years. After 40 years, everyone but Joshua and the other man who fled from Egypt was dead. So they gave the whole invasion things another go. After Moses died, the Israelites cross the Jordan into the Holy Land. Joshua leads the Israelites first in conquering Jericho, with its walls, and then slowly the rest of the country over a forty year or so time span.

That was the story in the book, but what did it mean to be Joshua? This was a command coming from a woman who had been through so much more than I had, it obviously meant something. Who was Joshua? Joshua was faithful, despite adversity, despite overwhelming odds, despite getting screwed out of 40 years of his life by a bunch of ingrates. Joshua kept the peace and kept the commands of God. Joshua was a leader. He sent the right men for the right job at the right time. Joshua listened to God and followed through with what God asked him to do, no matter how ridiculous it might seem. “You want me to have the Ark of the Covenant march around the city in silence….for how many days…uh huh…and what’s a cubit again?” As I read, two keys things spoke to me about what it would mean to be Joshua. Faithfulness and leadership. Being Joshua meant I needed to be my family’s leader, to decide on courses of action, to make sure things got done, to handle the situations as best I could, but to do it all faithfully with an eye and an ear to the Lord. No one operates in a vacuum, or at least not for very long, you know, since God abhors them.

I was going to need to remain faithful, to be a leader for my wife and daughter, and to act in the manner God would want me to. Being Joshua was not going to be easy, but it was something I was going to need to do. It was going to be a long haul, we knew that, but hopefully better than forty years of wandering in the desert.

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