When faced with difficulties we generally respond as one of three birds. The Ostrich, the Robin or the Eagle.
Personally, I tend to go Ostrich. Denial is my defence mechanism of choice. Head in the sand, pretend it isn't there, presume that it will go away if I don't look at it. You would be surprised how well it has worked. Only last Saturday, faced with the impossibility of the Asda 'fast lane' we discovered that if you ignore the 'unexpected shopping in the bagging area' message for a few seconds, it just lets you carry on. Top tip. Of course that's to ignore the excruciating times when Ostrich doesn't work out. But of course, as an Ostrich, ignoring the bad outcomes is all part of the deal.
Others though go for the Robin. As in 'Brave Sir Robin ran away' from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. His trusty bards could be relied upon for adding another verse to the ballad of their Master's deeds, describing in detail how at every opportunity, 'brave sir Robin' did indeed, run away. A problem in a relationship, avoid the person. Uncomfortable in church? Go to a different one. Vision a bit too demanding? Dream a less challenging one.
Neither of course is what we are called to, both are very tempting. Often, we wish the Bible had recorded:
And the Lord said to Joshua “Be expedient and pragmatic, tell the people that in three days you will go through the camp with an action plan for them to discuss, although if three days seems a bit hasty, feel free to defer it to a more convenient point”
And God said to Abraham “Leave your people and go to a land that I will show you. (Defining 'leave' as take who you want, 'go' as a metaphor for 'stay' and 'I will show you' as 'you get to choose the destination and the route')
But inconsiderately, it doesn't. Instead, God says “Take up your cross daily” and makes many other impossible demands that cause us to adopt our favourite bird.
So, what of the Eagle? Well, we're supposed to soar like they soar. Not head in the sand seeing nothing, not running away so that we can't see the problem. But soaring on high where we can see the bigger picture, the clearer route. From Eagle's wings we see the smallness of the problem in the bigness of God's perspective. Our nose isn't pressed up against the impossible, we are flying high above it.
Great image, so much healthier, but how? The problem is real, the people don't want to enter the land, they really are scared of the giants, and frankly, so am I. If I'm honest, I don't think I have the energy to restore that relationship, the skill to manage that issue, the strength to face that hostility. Everything in me shouts 'hide your head in the sand, run away, find an easier ministry'
Isaiah 40 tells us that the answer is 'waiting' on God. Not a passive, finger drumming waiting. But an active, spending time with Him, putting relationship with Him ahead of the problems. Choosing to focus on Him rather than the issues, worshipping Him not idolising the problem.
In the end, Joshua was able to achieve the impossible because he was 'strong and of good courage'. Not because of his own gifts and experience. Not because he drummed up some steely eyed self-willed strength. But because God was with him, and he knew it. It caused him to fly.