One of the most memorable presidential moments in my life has to be the May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech by George W. Bush. If you don’t remember, that was speech in which he announced the end of combat operations in Iraq. He did so in an unprecedented way. On that day, the president landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, and gave his speech from the flight deck with a huge banner over his shoulder that read, “Mission Accomplished.” Granted, he took a lot of flack for the speech, especially since more people died in Iraq after his speech than before. He probably would have waited a little while to make the speech had he known Iraq would turn into the boondoggle it became. Regardless of the truth or appropriateness of his speech, seeing the President land on an aircraft carrier and stroll across the flight deck in a flight suit was pretty awesome.
No doubt, hearing “mission accomplished” is a good thing – especially if you’ve been engaged in the mission for a very long time or if the mission has come at a very great cost. For the men and women of the USS Abraham Lincoln, completing a 10-month deployment was a big deal. It was the longest deployment of an aircraft carrier since the Vietnam War. For those warriors, it was a personal “mission accomplished.”
In Joshua 22, we find another “mission accomplished” moment. It was the end of major conflict in Canaan. The Bible says that God had given them rest. It was time to revisit an important group of people that we first met back in Joshua 1. They were the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. In many ways, these were the unsung heroes of the book of Joshua. Remember their story? They had already received their inheritance – on the east side of the Jordan. But they left their families behind and crossed the Jordan River to fight with the rest of Israel to conquer the remainder of the land. That task was finished. For these faithful men, it was now time to go home to celebrate their very own “mission accomplished.” What a homecoming it must have been!
I can’t wait for the day that we hear “mission accomplished” from our King, our Commander in Chief, if you will. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.” In other words, Great Com-“mission Accomplished.” We are living in a generation where the potential exists to finish the mandate to preach the good news to the uttermost parts of the earth. No generation of Christians has been closer to “mission accomplished” than ours. Pretty amazing thought, right? And just like every soldier from the Transjordan tribes had a hand in the mission, so too does every man and woman who calls on Jesus as Lord. You have a part to play. Your uttermost may be a kid on your soccer team, a new neighbor down the street, or perhaps even a native in the jungles of Brazil. One day, our heavenly Commander-in-Chief will tell us, “Mission Accomplished,” and He will actually get it right. The only question that remains is “Will you have lent a hand in completing the most exciting mission, the Great Commission?”