Oh, we are the Pathfinders strong!
Who else knows the rest of this song? I always look at other people who have been enrolled in Pathfinders, my denomination’s co-ed version of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, as comrades. Fellow sufferers. Friends who have been through the same trauma as I have.
Because while Pathfinders was really fun, there’s always a level of chaos that comes with a group of high schoolers and their few, fearless adult leaders.
We spent a lot of time trying to mask that chaos. I still remember the panic of knowing our Pathfinder leader was coming to check on us and whatever task we were supposed to be completing. All around you, kids were whispering “Look busy! Pretend you’re doing something!”. You could be a lazy Pathfinder, but you certainly didn’t want it to be obvious, lest you get singled out and publicly reprimanded.
Joshua 5 has a lot in common with Pathfinder values. The only difference is that instead of looking busy, Joshua 5 reminds us to actually get busy.
We’re looking for volunteers
Joshua 5 is a long song. Much like Exodus 15, it’s a song written and performed after the previous chapter’s battle with an enemy. It’s a song of victory and of hope. It’s a song that recaps what just went down and then breaks down what it means for the future.
The song also functions as an attendance sheet!
Deborah, the author of the song, mentions a bunch of different tribes of Israel, noting whether or not they participated in the Israelites’ battle against the Moabites and their king, Sisera.
Just for the record, the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Isaachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali made an appearance.
The tribes of Reuben, Dan and Asher did not.
These three tribes decided not to find something to do. They decided not to look busy. They decided to chill at home.
And as small or as justified as the decision may have seemed to them at the time, it’s clear now that they made the wrong choice.
“Why did you stay among the sheep pens?” Deborah sings. “Curse [the] people bitterly, because they did not come to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty.” (verses 16, 23)
And while it may seem obvious that those tribes should have participated in this physical battle against the Lord’s enemies, sometimes we miss the memo in the present day, when it comes to spiritual battles.
You are called to join God’s army. I’m called to join God’s army. We all are called. But how many of us have actually accepted the invitation?
How many of us look for opportunities to witness, to tell other people about Jesus?
How many of us donate our time or money or effort or whatever we can to spread the gospel?
How many of us make time to serve God, to minister to others?
And how many of us are idling at home? How many of us are lazing around in our comfort zone? How many of us need to be told to look busy, to find something to do?
Deborah’s song is a wake up call for you and me and everyone who follows Jesus. We can’t sit this one out. We can’t waste time.
We have to volunteer. We have to work for God. We have to join His army.
“Work with me. Serve me. Your reward is coming.”
It’s easy to get it twisted. What begins as honest effort to serve God can warp into pride, competitiveness, silly church politics, attempts to look holier-than-thou, or worse.
But working for God should never be about us, about how good we look, or even about how blessed we’ll be for it.
At its core, serving God is about love. Love for God, of course, but also love for others.
Serving God is about loving people so much you want to help them meet their needs.
Serving God is about loving others so much you want to tell them about a heavenly Friend who loves them and wants to help them.
Serving God is about loving people so much you want to do whatever you can to alleviate their suffering.
Serving God is about loving ourselves and others and God so much that we want to get away from this rock where sin has ruined everything. It’s about making it to heaven and its peace and safety and love, and bringing as many people as we can along with us.
And who doesn’t want that? But in order to get there, we have to get busy. We have to serve and share and spread as much as we can.
Let’s find something to do.
What do you think? What work are you doing in God’s army?