The Winning Strategy

8 March 2018James Buntrock

Growing up in the windy city of Corpus Christi, I developed a love for sailboat racing. I got to race with a lot of great people and learn a lot about the way the world works. At the start of each race, though, it’s all business. Everyone wants to win.

But winning at life, for the believer, isn’t about beating the other guy. It means fulfilling the unique call of God over each of us in the biggest way we can while we help others do the same. It means staying on God’s path to meet our goal and win the most honor for Him.

Joshua, as the new leader of the people of Israel, had a challenging course ahead. Moses had left him with the immense job of leading the people into the land God had promised them generations before. It was a rich land, but they’d have to tackle giants to occupy it.

God’s commission to Joshua makes a fitting pattern for us to achieve God’s plans in our own lives. Joshua 1:7-8 says,

Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Here’s the pattern I see in Joshua 1:

Remember How God Has Led You

God told Joshua that He’d be with him as He was with Moses. Remembering the miracles God did through Moses, the commands God gave, His faithfulness to provide… all these things would give strength to Joshua, reinforcing his trust in God for the hard times ahead. Jericho? No problem. God had parted the Red Sea. Looking back at personal testimonies and those of others around you can inspire your faith, too.

A little look back every now and then is good to check your own progress, too. God told Joshua not to turn to the right or the left but go straight. In sailing, the most efficient path toward the finish line, of course, is a straight line, but conditions never quite let you sail in one. To keep the wind in your sails, the helmsman has to tack and jibe, strategically zig-zagging toward the goal. You just want your overall heading to be as straight as possible, so every now and then, you take a glance back at your wake to see how you’re doing. We had a saying: no snake wake. A wiggly line represented a wavering or distracted helmsman. Recognizing some rabbit trails helps us correct and move on.

See Things from God’s Perspective

God told Joshua to meditate on the Word day and night, and also to continually talk about it. This way, Joshua would keep God’s mindset and stay in constant connection with Him.

As we do the same, the Word comes alive to us and helps guide us daily. On a racing team, the helmsman’s only job is to steer the boat. It takes up all his focus. Thankfully, he has a helper called the tactician who’s sitting next to him watching everything going on around. The tactician is an expert on all the local weather patterns and knows where the shallow spots are in the bay. He knows how best to take advantage of changing wind conditions. He’s also watching all the other boats and their relative speeds and headings. He gives great advice, but he won’t shout it. Sound travels too well across the water, and the competition can easily steal or subvert the strategy. He whispers, and the helmsman hears.

Do the Word

Joshua knew if he’d observe and do all God said, God would make his way prosperous, and he’d have good success. It’s not enough to know what the tactician knows. We have to use the knowledge to steer the boat. Use what God tells you, knowing that it’s always for the good of you and your whole crew.

3 John 2 says God wants us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers. Following God’s system of success is not only the smoothest way to sail, it’s the straightest course to an outstanding finish.