Summary: Third message in a series on the life of Joshua. This happened to fall on Veterans Day Weekend at our church and it was written with that in mind.
Heroes—The Secret—(part 3)
In the battle of the Argonne in October 1918, the allies were attempting to break German lines when Cpl Alvin York and his men came upon well-hidden machine guns on high ground. As he later put it, "The Germans got us, and they got us right smart . . . and I’m telling you they were shooting straight." American soldiers "just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home."
Attention Video Techs: Roll the SGT YORK slide show as I’m telling this story
But Cpl. York and his men went behind the German lines, overran a unit, and captured the enemy. Suddenly there was new machine-gun fire from a ridge, and six Americans went down. York was in command, exposed but cool, and he began to shoot. "All I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting. . . . All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to." A German officer tried to empty his gun into York while York fired. He failed but York succeeded, the Germans surrendered, and York and his small squad marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines.
His Medal of Honor citation called him fearless, daring and heroic.
York wasn’t born a hero. Alvin York was born in 1887 into a Tennessee farming family that didn’t have much, but nobody else did, so it wasn’t so bad. He was the third of 11 children and had an average life for that time and place. Then World War I came. He experienced a crisis of conscience over whether to fight. His mother’s Evangelical church tugged him toward more or less pacifist thinking.
“I didn’t know what to do. I’m telling you there was a war going on inside me, and I didn’t know which side to lean to. I was a heap bothered.”
That’s exactly the point that we’ve been making in this series of sermons called “Heroes—The Secret” The secret behind every hero is that heroes become heroes internally before their exploits are displayed externally.
Alvin York needed to experience an internal eclipse. His doubts were eventually eclipsed by faith and trust. And a hero was revealed.
Joshua is the leader of an untested army. They’ve got doubts. For them to possess the Promised Land and win Independence for their new nation of Israel their doubts must be eclipsed by faith. Their desire for certainty must be eclipsed by a comfort with uncertainty.
For the nation of Israel this is the opening campaign of their War of Independence. This is their Lexington and Concord. This is their Bunker Hill.
But as they set out in early morning hours for their march to the Jordan River they don’t know the plan. They don’t know what’s next. There’s a great deal of uncertainty. Their parents and grandparents were here 40 years earlier and it didn’t go well. They allowed their doubts and fears to immobilize them.
Would this new generation of Hebrews repeat that mistake?
How about you and me? How comfortable are you with uncertainty? The Hebrew nation is moving towards the Jordan River to launch a military campaign and they don’t even know how they’re going to get across the river.