I love a good redemption story! It is the promise of the Gospel that where we find ourselves today is not where we’ll always be! Our stories of decline and failure do not forever define us. Redemption is at the heart of the Gospel. It is at the center of the scriptures. The Living God renews, redeems, restarts, rebirths, regenerates, rebuilds, reclaims, and resurrects.
In Joshua 1, we read the story of Israel’s return to Canaan. This, too, is a redemption story. Israel had lost the Promised Land but were coming home again following over 400 years of slavery in Egypt and 40 years of wandering in the desert. They were reclaiming what God had given them.
God promised they would flourish and blossom in the land he was giving them, but he required two things of them:
1] Strength and courage. Joshua was told at least 3 different times to be ‘strong and courageous’. So what courage was required of him since God fought all the battles for him? He had to have the courage to actually believe God would do what he said he would do!
2] Obedience. Joshua was cautioned not to turn to the right or the left of the Word of the LORD. Every time Israel found itself in trouble, it was because they ignored the Word of the LORD. They wandered in the desert because of it. Decline was always the outcome of ignoring the Word of God. But like a spring bubbling up in a parched desert, the LORD returns life to those who return to him.
Their story got redeemed. The land gets reclaimed!
Covington Community Church was formed out of a Bible Study in the late 1930s. They began holding prayer meetings together in the early 40s and formed this little church in the woods in 1942. They purchased an old mess hall from the flooded Selleck mine and moved it to where the old Covington Elementary School now stands. They purchased our current property soon afterwards and began construction on this facility in 1952. On Resurrection Sunday 1953, they moved in!
The church soon realized the need for more classroom space. Some Sundays in the early days, they had more kids than adults in the church! The church built a Christian Education annex in 1960, but at the church began to decline, the space was no longer required. For 40 years, a community preschool had occupied the space.
Today we are celebrating reclamation! Reclamation began when the old orange shag carpet and multiple broken windows were replaced in 2010. We reclaimed the upstairs for our children. We reclaimed the old nursery for our wider church family. And now we have reclaimed the ‘old preschool building’ for our children and adult discipleship ministries. But it is so much more than that!
Thanks to God, this church has reclaimed its originating mission. Thanks to God, this church has reclaimed its viability and vitality. Thanks to God, this church has reclaimed its presence and witness in this community. Thanks to God, individuals are being renewed, reborn, and resurrected.
It’s required courage: the courage to change what needed to change, the courage to make tough choices, the courage to believe God would do what he said he would do. It’s required obedience: returning the Word of the LORD to its proper place in our community, and making our decisions based on Spirit-led discernment.
If we do these things — as was promised to Joshua and Israel — we will flourish and thrive.
Thanks to God!