“I’m in WAY over my head,” I sobbed. “I don’t know what I was thinking coming to school here!”
My parents listened patiently as I broke down over the phone. They did their best to console me,
“Everybody feels this way their first year in college. You can do it, you just have to study harder!”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I breezed through high school and graduated at the top of my class, but now I struggled to make Cs. And the class killing me was 5-hour engineering calculus.
“But I’m making a D!” I confessed, “Do you know what that’ll do to my GPA?”
Sadly, I found out what a 5-hour D does to your GPA, especially in your first term.
College wasn’t the last time I experienced that “in over my head” feeling. In fact, it seems to be an inevitable part of life, sometimes designed by God to remind me that He’s in charge.
I wonder if Joshua felt that way as he led the Israelites into Canaan, especially during the campaign against Ai (Joshua 7-8). He proceeded in a logical manner:
sent spies out on a reconnaissance mission,
listened to their advice and
sent a small group to attack the little town of Ai.
To Joshua’s astonishment, the men of Ai soundly defeated the Israelites and sent his disheartened men bolting back to camp.
Then Joshua did what we all do: cried out to God and asked why He let this happen. You can hear an echo of “in over my head” when Joshua wishes he’d been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan River.
I love God’s no-nonsense response:
Get up, clean up and
deal with the sin in the camp.
Then we’ll get going again.
Joshua did just that, and waited for the Lord’s orders to move out. As he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua learned five important lessons that apply to us today:
1. Always Pray First
God blessed General Joshua with a brilliant military mind and unmatched leadership skills. They served him well, but only when used in tandem with God’s command and His Spirit. Prayer also revealed hidden sin that jeopardized the mission.
2. Be Flexible
Different territories call for different strategies. Joshua wasn’t afraid to try something new.
3. Watch Who You Listen To
Be wary of new friends who want to be your allies (Joshua 8), and also be careful whose advice you seek (Joshua 7).
4. Give It Your Best
After the defeat at Ai, Joshua never again went into battle without ALL his troops. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing WELL.
5. Celebrate Every Victory
Joshua led the Israelites in worship after they conquered Ai, and he was careful to honor God with every victory.
I’ve learned those lessons in what my dad calls “The School of Hard Knocks.” I retook 5-hour calc, stayed on track with my major and learned a lot during my four years at Virginia Tech.
The most important lesson, and one that grows more precious each year, is that GOD is the only one Who’s ALWAYS there when I’m “in over my head.”