“Spring Forward” may be two of my least favorite words in the English language. Daylight Savings time lurks in the shadows of winter, hiding in plain sight using little tiny font on the calendar, slowly stalking me. I know there is a massive amount of visibility to this every year, but somehow daylight savings time still finds a way to surprise me and steal an hour of sleep when I least expect it. Fortunately, arriving just in time to save the day is our favorite plumber to celebrate a holiday of his own, March 10th… a date better known as MARIO day (MAR10) by gamers around the world. And Mario has been “saving daylight” since 2002 in one of the classic titles of that generation… Super Mario Sunshine.
Super Mario Sunshine HAS to be considered one of the top five GameCube games of all time and stands apart as one of the most unique, vibrant, and colorful Mario adventures ever released. Presenting a fresh spin on the classic “save the princess, save the world” storyline that permeated just about every other Mario adventure up to this point, Super Mario Sunshine presented a much needed shake up to the Mario status quo. Filled with a plethora of new challenges and abilities for our hero, Mario Sunshine tasked gamers with tracking down “Shine Sprites” that had been scattered all across the landscape of Isle Delfino.
Tracking down all 120 “Shines” was a fun and exciting way to restore the island to its former glory, but like every other time Mario has been tasked with working WELL outside of the confines of his “plumberly” job description. And most of the time in life it feels like we are asked to do the same… tackling ever growing challenges before we even feel like we have fully mastered the LAST problem we were faced with. But while this is a common challenge for both Mario and all of us who enjoy playing his games, there is also a solution presented from the ORIGINAL Daylight Savings Time champion… a man named Joshua.
A quick little bit of backstory on Joshua… Joshua inherited the mantle of leadership from Moses and was giving the INCREDIBLY daunting task of leading Israel into their conquest of the Promised Land. Talk about some big sandals to fill. And it seems like Joshua was well aware of the burden he was about to carry. How can we tell? Maybe it was because of the sheer amount of times that the Lord had to REASSURE him to be strong and courageous with the battles he was about to face…
Joshua 1:1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
THREE times in nine verses we find God encouraging Joshua to be strong and of good courage. But you may not be convinced that Joshua had some issues in the “courage” department. So let’s jump ahead a few more verses to when the PEOPLE were talking to their new leader Joshua…
Joshua 1:16-18 So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.”
When the people who are supposed to be following your lead are reminding you to be strong, it must be pretty apparent that Joshua was needing a little bit of support. To be fair, he is about to take on the challenge of a lifetime and over the next several chapters he launches a military campaign that would make any five-star general jealous. But right now he is simply a man who just lost his mentor, has been thrust into a leadership role, and now has both some literal and figurative mountains to climb. The water is about to get VERY deep and Joshua knows it.
We see a completely different man in Joshua chapter 10… a man who is about to perform one of the most extraordinary miracles recorded in the entire Bible.
Joshua 10:12-14 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.
Talk about some daylight savings time… Joshua reached out in faith to the Lord and literally held the sun in the sky until the battle had ended and ALL of his enemies had been vanquished. Now THAT sounds like someone who was feeling pretty strong and courageous. But before we try to figure out what is the difference between the Joshua we saw in chapter 1 and the man he has become in chapter 10, we need to look at one more thing that occurred right after this climactic battle:
Joshua 10:22-25 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”
Did you see it? Joshua is preaching the message he received from the Lord only a short time earlier, telling the captains of the army to “be strong and of good courage”. From hearing it, to living it, to sharing it all in a few short chapters. What happened to the man who had needed so much encouragement to mold him into an instrument of encouragement himself? It is a secret that is also found in the New Testament from another one of the pivotal “change agents” in the Bible… the Apostle Paul:
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
There it is… but let’s dig into it just a little deeper before we wrap up. The reason Joshua could offer encouragement to others is because he himself was receiving it from God. He became a “conduit of comfort”, giving what he was still in the process of receiving from the Lord. We are not the comforters, we are simply those through whom the comfort of the Lord flows. And it flows through the very same tribulations, challenges, and battles that we ourselves are still in the process of facing and defeating. Joshua didn’t wait until AFTER he had fully conquered the Promised Land to provide courage to his troops. He didn’t wait hold off on providing insight until he was safely in his golden years, putting out a book of his memoirs and try to make a few bucks off of his life story (NY times bestselling author Joshua will be signing copies of his book “Being Strong and of Good Courage: My Truth” at your local Books-A-Dozen). No, he shared not only what he had been given, but what he was STILL RECEIVING from the Lord each and every day to those he was in direct contact with. He allowed the strength to freely flow from the reservoir of courage that God Himself was giving Joshua each and every day.
One last VERY important thing to note. This strength and courage did not come without a prerequisite. Let’s focus on what the Lord said to Joshua in between the “Be strong and of good courage” quotes:
Joshua 1:7-9 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you?Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
It sounds great to quote “Be strong and of good courage” to people, but unless we follow the meat between those two pieces of bread there simply is no courage to possess. The fountain from which Joshua drew his strength and courage was in living a life of obedience to the Lord. He could only share that with others because he possessed it himself. His success rate was measured in a direct ratio to his steadfast obedience to the Lord and making Him FIRST. And therein lies the application to us. I would love to tell you that I have conquered all of the challenges and tribulations in my life, but I am still fighting many of those battles. We will endure these until our final breath on this planet. But I CAN allow the grace that the Lord is giving me to fight these battles with His strength to flow through to you and encourage you to keep the faith, because if He is strong enough to protect and guide me through what I am facing then I KNOW He can do this for you as well.
I want to encourage you today that we are called to comfort others in the MIDST of our storms, not just after they are over. By following the Lord in obedience we can extend His “sunshine” to everyone He places in our path, making our bodies a conduit through which the strength and grace of God that we are still actively depending on can sustain others at the same time. Joshua learned through his own path of success and failures that we can only provide what we are being supplied with from the Lord. He used Joshua at the very point of his personal need to supply others with the very same strength and courage that he himself could not survive without. Follow the Lord resolutely and He will always provide not only what you need, but He will use you to provide the overflow to the others around you who are in need as well!
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