If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?
Joshua came from a good family. Not a rich family, but a good family. His father was a laborer; highly trained and skilled. He was a loving man. He was supportive of young Joshua and taught him his trade. From a young age, Joshua was out in the shop helping his father; learning and honing his own skills and aptitude.
His mother was a stay at home mom. She worked hard for her family. She was involved in the community. She taught Joshua proper manners and how to do certain chores. Joshua enjoyed spending time with his mom in the kitchen. He especially liked helping her preparing the vegetables from the garden, he and his dad had grown.
Joshua’s parents taught him the Scriptures. They taught him about God and love and respect for his fellow human beings. They nurtured him in the love and grace of God and told him God had a special plan and purpose for him. Joshua showed an uncanny ability to read and interpret even the hardest of texts. In time, he was teaching them more than they were him.
People in the community began whispering about young Joshua. There seemed to be, to almost anyone who had any contact with him, something different about him. Some said he was just plain odd. Others said he had a gift; a deep and abiding quality they couldn’t quite put their finger on. Either way, almost everyone agreed he was different. Some even conjectured that it was going to bring trouble to him one day.
The other children all liked Joshua. He would play with them for hours at a time. He had a vivid imagination and would lead the other kids in games. He enjoyed being outside. He enjoyed playing and laughing.
However, there were times when he wanted to be alone. He would sit and stare into the sky. Sometimes he would pray aloud. Other times, he would sit still and quiet. His mother would watch him, she would smile and she too would pray.
As he grew older, Joshua showed promise as a laborer and student. He was gifted at anything he put his hand to it seemed. His parents continued to support and nurture him. Their family bond was strong.
This bond would not last forever. One evening Joshua’s father became ill. Before the week was done, his father had died. He was a young man. No one knew for sure what the cause was. Joshua and his mother were devastated by the loss. His mother grieved for many days. At night, Joshua could hear his mother in her bed weeping and praying. Joshua felt the loss too. He would walk out to his father’s shop and sit on one of the benches. He would look around at his father’s passion and life’s work. The tears would stream down his cheeks.
The responsibility of the household now fell on Joshua’s shoulders. He was a young man, strong and smart. His mother would now depend upon him. He continued his father’s work. He became known as a skilled craftsman. People called from all over wanting him to do work for them. The business was thriving. In only a short time, he had established himself as a successful businessman.
His younger brothers and sisters looked up to him. They admired his work ethic and ability. They appreciated how he had taken the reigns of the family. His mother was thankful for him too. She knew he was the only one who could do it, without him the family would have faced a serious financial crisis.
Joshua taught his younger brothers the trade his father had taught him. They learned the ins and outs of the business. Joshua felt it important to pass the legacy of their father on down to them. At times, it felt a bit strange to him, now standing in the place where his father once stood. Now the student had become the teacher. He would often times hear himself say something to his younger brothers that his father had said to him. In these moments he would smile and remember the bond he and his father shared fondly.
As the years passed, Joshua and his brothers were doing well. The business was good. The family had settled into their new roles. Their mother was healthy and strong. Their sisters did their share to tend to the needs of the family.
It seemed everything was perfect. They were a loving family. They were committed to one another. They were strong in their faith and their love of God. They read the Scriptures together in the evening, once the work and cooking had been finished. They would discuss the texts and ponder the lives of the men and women found therein. Everyone in the family deferred to Joshua in these matters. He could present the stories with such vividness. When he told them, he made the stories and the people come to life. His brothers and sisters would swear they could smell the smells and hear the sounds in the narratives as he told them. Joshua enjoyed doing it. He would act out the scenes. When he was reading a passage about the love and grace of God, he would laugh and almost sing the words. In these passages, there was a warmth in his voice. The air seemed to celebrate the great attributes of God.
When he would read the passages dealing with sin and rebellion, his words would express the heartbreak and deep sense of loss and pain. His eyes would feel with tears and he would lament the trials and pains of the people and of God. In these times, somberness seemed to settle low over their heads, like a dense, abiding fog.
And so they continued, happy and content. Until one evening, after Joshua read a familiar passage, he announced to his family he would soon be leaving them. They all looked to one another in disbelief. Surely he was kidding them. They looked back at him, but they could tell from his expression he was serious. They sat for many minutes. No one said a word. Finally, his mother got up from her seat, walked over and kissed Joshua on the forehead.
Go, do what you must my son, she said to him as tears fell from her eyes. Joshua looked at his mother, tears in his own eyes, and nodded his gratitude.
One of his younger brothers spoke, No, this can’t be. Joshua, you can’t leave us. Not now. This isn’t right. This family is your responsibility. You are the man of the house now. You can’t turn your back on us.
Joshua looked at his younger brother and spoke resolutely, I must.
After a few minutes more, Joshua found himself sitting in an empty room. Everything was quiet and peaceful. He could still feel the anger of his brothers, the bewilderment of his younger sisters. He still bore the sadness in his mother’s eyes. But, she knew. She understood. His father would have as well. He was hopeful, in time, his siblings would too.
The next morning, early before anyone else was awake, Joshua went to his mother’s room and kissed her on the cheek and said goodbye. He went out to his father’s shop and remembered. He went out to the dusty road that led out of town. This is where it would begin. His time had come. It was time to leave and take the journey. He knew the road would be long and hard. He knew it would be filled with hurt and sickness and despair. But he, just as he had done for his own family, would bring joy and light and life. He stooped and took some of the dust between his fingers. He rubbed the grit together, feeling its coolness and texture.
As he turned back, looking at his father’s old workshop over his shoulder, he could once again hear his father’s voice. He could once again hear the sounds of their trade: saw cutting the grain, hammer striking nail. So his life had begun and so it would end to the same sounds. This is what awaited him. This was his call. This was what he must do. And so, he looked to heaven and with a smile he stepped out to do the trade of his Father.