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Holy Ground

Shoot, y’all! I am shook reflecting on these past six months and where it all began. Let me give you some context.

At the end of every year, I posture myself to hear a new word, phrase, or scripture from the Lord for the next twelve months. Not really a resolution, but some fresh revelation — what does God want to do in and through my life in the days to come. My quiet times are spent praying and journaling — waiting for a prompting or a recurring voice. Here are some of the “words” from previous years:

GROW | 2017 | I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. his branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon. -Hosea 14:5-7

FALLOW GROUND | 2018 | Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. -Hosea 10:12

WATER + DROUGHT | 2019 | The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. -Isaiah 58:11

In mid-December, I was in the middle of a read-through-the-Bible plan. No significant devotional or passage — simply reading Joshua chapters 1-15. I rarely stopped for reflection or research. But on December 17th something stirred in my heart as I read the following encounter:

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

Stopped. Thought about it. Read it again. Then moved on.

During this ordinary workday, I tried to stay sensitive to the Lord’s voice waiting for a whisper or a road sign (neon preferably). I opened up my computer to an email regarding a holy land tour. Immediately I was taken back to Joshua’s confrontation and the words spoken to him by the Lord, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.”

Holy ground.

Now that’s a word! Right? A very spiritual illustration of power and confidence. A direct command from God Himself to a hero of heroes, Joshua — who was appointed after Moses to lead Israel into the promised land. Okay God, let’s go and hit 2020 with all you got!

Of course, during this time everyone (including me) was on the bandwagon of 20/20 — clear and perfect vision for this year. God was ready to open our eyes, give us clarity, and show us more of Himself. We were praying for it, declaring it, and waiting for it.

Fast forward to mid-March… a strange virus was invading our daily lives, thousands were dying from it, and fear of the unknown was rampant. Life was shutting down as we knew it. Businesses, schools, and churches closed.

In spite of this, the uncertainty of what we were collectively experiencing brought us together.

Then... the murders of Ahmaud, Breonna, and George Floyd set in motion agony and anger which had been right below the surface. Unity dissipated and division circulated. Passionate posts supported or offended. Silence, as well as, shouts were not tolerated.

How is this "clarity of vision", God? Why are we seeing isolation, severance, and outrage?

Where is this holy ground ?

The concept of holy ground is only mentioned three times in the Bible. Exodus 3:5 when Moses approaches the burning bush, Joshua 5:15 before the fall of Jericho, and in Acts 7:30-35 when Stephen recounts the story of Moses. In both narratives — Moses and Joshua see first.

Each needed to see something unprecedented in order to hear the voice of God. Seeing was the catalyst.

As we remember Joshua 5:13, let’s look at Exodus 3:3-5 :

The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

Moses looked. The Lord spoke.

Joshua looked. The Lord spoke.

The earth beneath their feet was ordinary. The location was insignificant. There was nothing remarkable about the actual ground each man was standing on. Moses was in the middle of an Arabian desert. Joshua was right outside Jericho, approximately 16 miles west of Jerusalem. The conditions were not the key component — the Caller was.

The ground was holy because God was there.

With the backdrop of a pandemic, racial tension, and absolute uncertainty — God is here. We are standing on holy ground.

Whatever YOU are going through...

loneliness, anxiety, or depression — God is there.

sadness, suffering, or loss — God is there.

a broken heart, relationship, or body — God is there.

schooling, working, or waiting — God is there.

Wherever you are, right now, God is there — and it is holy ground.

God prompts us to look, then hear, and finally obey. Don’t miss that last part! Moses, Joshua, as well as you, and I, needed to see something unprecedented in order to hear the voice of God. And then act in obedience.

Both men were called and both had to follow through. The holy ground we are currently standing on requires perception and reception. We must see, hear, and do.

What if we choose to look differently at this year? What if we lean in to listen to the call? What if we choose to follow and lead, stand and fight, act with courage and confidence in every space that God has us — right here, right now?

...the place where you stand is holy ground.


Janelle Nobles is lead creator at Hey Ladybirds! and Team Development Coordinator at Passion City Church in Atlanta where she lives with her husband. All the heart-eyes for her nest — kids, in-loves, & g-babies as well as running and quac. She’s obsessed with reading and memorizing the Word and building the local church. Connect on Instagram or Facebook.


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