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Choose this day whom you will serve

It began its life with us as a normal blue car.

That summer, my family packed up the blue car and off we went for our vacation. I was a teenager, and we were headed to Yellowstone National Park. A nice trip. But, on the return, things changed.

It was a sunny day and my father was driving on the interstate, probably in South Dakota. Suddenly, everyone in the car straightened, including my awesomely brave dad. We were under attack.

The roof of the car, the trunk, the hood, each window, each door was struck with unrelenting force. Every exterior space on that vehicle was hit again and again by rocks bigger than baseballs. Ice-hard rocks.

We’d driven into a fierce summer hailstorm.

My mother was beside me and I turned to her, staring into her eyes. They’d turned as big as saucers, and she pulled me close. I later learned that hail kills people all over the world.

I glanced at the windows, certain they’d crash in on us. But God protected my family and that storm passed quickly.

I recall stepping out onto the pavement, staring at the ice balls covering it.

I watched my dad run his hand over the hood and then eye the roof and doors. What had once been smooth surfaces now looked as though someone had taken a giant rubber mallet and beaten every square inch of that car.

I remembered that storm several weeks ago during Bible study. My friend Preston had just described a hailstorm in Mobile, Alabama.

“It broke out every window in a woman’s car!” he said.

We were studying the 10th Chapter of Joshua, which has a deadly hailstorm. But, if you look closely, you’ll see something more.

The Book of Joshua starts at a fast pace. Moses is dead and the invasion of the Promised Land begins in earnest. Jericho is conquered and Ai. But then Joshua is tricked into a treaty with the people of Gibeon.

When the kings of the nearby cities hear of the Gibeonites defecting, they join forces to attack them.

“So Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, sent to [the other four kings] saying, ‘Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.’

“Then the five kings … went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

“And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua [for help] … And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear [the armies of the five kings]  for I have given them into your hands…’

“So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel…

“And as they fled before Israel … the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.” Joshua 10:3-11

The killer hailstorm shows it was God who won that battle for the Hebrews. But the storm was special, as I said. Do you see why?

The storm stood still, falling just on the fleeing soldiers. God rained down boulders of ice in only one place.

Make no mistake, God knows His enemies today as He did then. Obviously, they include those who despise Him. But they also include those who claim the name of Jesus.

Good Christians will do bad things, but good Christians thirst for God and will always return to Him.

Those who claim the name of Jesus and have no need for Him, will choose their path, not His. And they will soon find themselves the enemies of God.

Remember my family’s blue car? It’s multi-cratered surface required explanation to one and all when we returned, but soon enough we hardly noticed it. That vehicle is long gone, yet the memory of the storm will stay with me forever. And the loving grace God showed my family — a family devoted to Him.

It isn’t surprising, once you know Joshua, that he is remembered for this great passage: “Choose this day whom you will serve … for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15


The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and a seminary graduate with an M.Div. degree. Contact her at [email protected].

Copyright © 2021 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.

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