As we’ve studied Joshua together, we’ve been challenged to not lose sight of the hero of the story. Though Joshua’s book bears his name, this old faithful servant of God would most likely be mortified if the only thing believers knew from his book was that, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down.” The pages of his book drip with God’s faithfulness and his people’s obedience, even when--especially when--that obedience defies all human logic. This excerpt from my life is an account of obedience over logic and how our Father faithfully blesses obedience. May He always be the hero of the story.
A period of my life exists where I worked toward the destruction of my marriage, family, and self. Daily I chose selfishness, personal glory, and vanity over a peaceful home, engaged time with my children and husband, and quality time with family and friends. Any momma of young children will confess how lonely and grueling the years of infancy and toddlerhood can be, and the longing for adult interaction and recognition can create desert places in one’s soul. A little over a year into motherhood, this is where I found myself. As my teaching career came to a close, the long and often thankless days of motherhood left me craving a more satisfying identity.
With the perfect vision of hindsight, I can now say our Creator is gracious in making us crave a new identity. Unfortunately, in pursuing that identity, we often draw from the wrong well instead of drawing from his streams of living water. I dipped my bucket into the “Etsy shop owner” well and found it so satisfying for a second. Over a period of a few years I had thousands of Facebook fans praising me, thousands of sales affirming me, and hundreds of virtual “friends” interacting with me.
But my life was anything but satisfying. It was frenzied. It was exhausting. It was empty. It was lonely. I was stressed out and further from that satisfying identity than I had ever been.
But then the Word of God spoke. The Lord was faithful to convict me and call me to repentance and obedience through the reading of His Word. As my pastor read aloud from Acts 1, I became acutely aware of the idol I had created and worshiped over the past few years, that my life didn’t bear witness to the those around me (1:8), and that in order to partake of the full and fruitful life God gives, I had to be rid of that idol. I had to go home and close my Etsy shops, be done with my Facebook pages and groups, and pursue people with the love of Christ.
This all sounds so very straightforward, like common sense, right? But have you ever killed an idol? Have you ever walked away from a toxic relationship or a self-serving job, or attempted to re-order the priorities in your life in order to rightly worship and prioritize our God? Or maybe you’re living in the midst of idol worship right now and don’t know where to begin to walk in obedience, especially if walking in obedience doesn’t seem logical to those around you. My act of obedience (closing my business) was questioned by some of those closest to me. To them, it appeared I was on the brink of breaking through into something really big and successful; why on earth would I walk away?
The only answer I could give was that walking away was an act of obedience. That act of obedience has sparked unparalleled personal revival and growth in my life, has been marked by answered prayer, and has opened doors of opportunity I never would have recognized had I been bowed at the foot of my idol; in short, obedience--even when it defies logic--produces blessing.
Which is where we pick up in Joshua. In Joshua 6, the Israelites are on the brink of something big. They’ve spied out Jericho and been told that all the Canaanites’ hearts have melted in fear of Yahweh. They’ve walked across a dry river bed as their mighty Deliverer heaped up the Jordan River. And the Commander of the army of the Lord himself has appeared to them to deliver strategic battle plans. And these battle plans would surely include some tricky maneuvering, advanced weaponry, and superhuman stamina and strength, right? Because if Yahweh has promised to give them the land and his Commander is delivering the method, this method will surely trump any and all previous military brilliance.
But of course, our Lord makes himself great by defying all human logic. Rather than provide them with horses, chariots, battering rams, flaming arrows, and the like, he tells them to march. Yep. March. That and to keep silent. Brilliant. Because that’s really going to terrify an enemy. Maybe on Day One, but by Day Three or Four? You can imagine there were some insults being thrown around, complete with scoffing at Yahweh’s ability to save.
Until Day Seven. On Day Seven, Yahweh fights the battle of Jericho, and the walls come tumbling down. HE announces that HE’S ushering in a new land for his people. HE will deliver them. HE will provide for them. And why?
Then he (Joshua) said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the Lord.” And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant followed them. (6:7-8)
“And it was so.” On Day Seven Yahweh defies all logic and destroys Jericho because his people obeyed. Morning after morning they arose from the hard ground and marched their weary bodies around the fortress of Jericho because they trusted in Yahweh, the God who delivers, the God who is faithful, the God of miracles, the God who blesses his people.
Obedience is not rooted in our desire for blessing but in our worship and praise of this God. We obey him because we love him; likewise, we cannot love him if we do not obey him. Obedience may simply be lifting your weary body every morning and putting one foot in front of another, or it may be crushing an idol. But that our God blesses us as a result of our obedience is a beautiful display of His steadfast love and grace toward us.