I spend a lot of time with bosses and with their personal assistants. The script is pretty predictable.
The PA works hard for weeks to sort out all the gritty little details of my trip. There are e-mails flying every which way, with variations and confirmations of each facet of what is supposed to transpire.
But when I come, it is the boss who goes out to dinner with me, while the PA settles for the four second introduction to me — if we happen to meet in the hallway! It’s the boss who gets to explore the God-ordained social DNA of the company, learn how to weave together the redemptive gifts of different players, and ultimately to envision a bold new trajectory for the company as he seeks to erase the line between the secular and the sacred.
Meanwhile, the PA makes coffee, reservations and juggles the phone calls from people who want to talk to the boss.
At the end of my time there, the boss is excited and energized as he joyously informs the PA about the new projects that the tired PA gets to add to his already overflowing To-Do List! Clearly the boss has an inside track on meeting with God while the PA does all the heavy lifting.
With that grid, I have wondered for years about Joshua. We all know the story of his boss going out to the tent where God was waiting for him. He had God-on-demand like no other person in the world ever has had. Moses could ask Him anything about everything, any time. The boss had perks, no doubt about it.
But there is a simple verse tucked into the story in Exodus 33:11. “Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” NIV
There are layers and layers here. I checked the Hebrew, and as near as I can tell, Joshua was actually INSIDE the tent with Moses. So he too saw God and listened to the dialog between the boss and God. Fascinating.
There is no mention of his face shining like Moses’ face did so being the kind of guy who looks around the edge of everything, I wonder about that. Why didn’t he get juiced too?
Second, it is very clear that the PA’s union back then had a much better labor contract than most of the personal assistants I have seen lately. Moses was a busy man. He had places to go, people to see and things to do, so he was a bit limited in how much time He could spend with God, but Joshua seemed to have nothing pressing in his inbox. He had the luxury of being able to hang out with God endlessly while the boss pounded out a bruising work load.
But the million dollar question is what it was like for Joshua and God when MISTER Exhorter left the tent with all his emotional energy.
Did God exit out the top of the tent as Moses was leaving through the front flap? If so, did Joshua hang out in the tent just mulling over what God had explained to Moses about administrative procedures, trying to see the wisdom behind the commands?
Or was he a land guy? Did he rush over to where God had been and lay on the ground to receive every last vestige of anointing that was left there? Or would that have been extreme sacrilege? Did he stay motionless in his corner, worshipping with his spirit without daring to even make a sound?
If God stayed, was Joshua the Mercy content to just hang out with God silently, enjoying His presence without commentary?
Or did their spirits partake in a robust engagement, wrapped in utter silence from soul and body?
OR . . . did Joshua engage in his own verbal dialog with God once Moses had gone back to work? If so, did he simply ask for clarification on the boss’s issues, or did he open up whole new areas of dialog — Mercy queries that the Exhorter never would have thought of?
I have circled around that verse hundreds of times in the last 50 years and so far have found not a single clue that would answer any of those questions. The boss left and the PA stayed in the tent.
Yet absolutely loaded with possibilities.
But at the end of the day, it made Joshua a very simple man. Decades later when he was leading Israel, he had a remarkably distilled world view: Nothing gets in God’s way!
So, when the command was clear that all the enemy troops were to be destroyed, and the darkness was getting in Gods way, Joshua unhesitatingly commanded the darkness to punch pause, because he needed the light for a while longer.
Moses got a rod that was charged with the power of God and some instructions on what to do with it.
Joshua leveraged the most improbable assignment (PA) into having his life charged with the nature of God.
And the difference between those two rings down through the ages.
Father, there are many people in the world who walk in the shadows of the people who seem to walk with You. They appear destined to only know You vicariously through the lives of others.
We invite You to bring them to Balmoral and to free them from the burden of serving Your servants so they can be served by You. As with Joshua, we invite You to impart to them on this land the reality of who You are, not just Your wisdom for dealing with life’s problems.
Let the faithful people who have served so well behind the scenes, setting the stage for the high profile people, have their own encounter with You, on this land.
Copyright November 2011 by Arthur Burk
Sapphire Leadership Group, Inc.