What must it have been like? I have the end of the story. I can see in a moment (within just a few verses) the outcome. But what must it have been like in the middle of it?
I find the story of my wonderment in Joshua 6:1-27. The Lord comes to Joshua and tells him how they are to defeat Jericho. (vs. 3 -5) Basically, they are to march around the wall of Jericho… one time each day… silently… for 6 days. On the 7th day, they are to march around 7 times, then give a shout.
God had done miraculous things before this point! He had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He had helped them to conquer before this. He was God and they knew it. He could perform the amazing, the incredible, the miraculous.
He had in the past. So why, in this case, did He tell them to march around the city? Not just once, not twice, but in reality a total of 13 times before He chose to move?
The Bible doesn’t give us the reaction of the people when they were told the plans. In fact, it’s not even clear that the people knew the complete plans.
They marched around the city the 1st day and returned to camp. They did it the 2nd day and returned to camp. For 6 days this was their routine.
I can just imagine what must have gone through the minds of just a few of them.
* “What is Joshua doing?”
* “Did God really tell Him this is what was supposed to happen?”
* “How does He know it was God that was speaking?”
* “Surely God is going to move in a mighty way… what? Back to camp?”
* “Joshua must be crazy! What in the world is he thinking?”
And on and on…
And then imagine day 7, first time around… ready to head back to camp… but no.. around again? And after the 3rd time around beginning the 4th. (Under their breath because remember, they are supposed to be silent.)
* “Are you kidding me? Joshua has really lost his mind now!”
* “I’m tired, can we just sit for awhile and rest? This is absolutely ridiculous!”
* “How many more times?”
* “I’m sure it couldn’t have been God Joshua heard. He has never asked us to do anything like this before.”
* “He can destroy these people without all of this embarrassment. We must be the laughing stock of Jericho by now.”
* “They think we are a bunch of wimps. Look at us, and we call this an army?”
* “They must think we are the biggest losers ever.”
Joshua was being obedient. He was following what he knew God had said, but there was probably grumbling, questioning, and doubting in the camp.
I have personally experienced similar situations. Following in the direction God has spoken, but it seeming to make no sense. The path seeming to be too long. Others around me (and even ourselves) questioning our actions. Doubting this is what God would have. Wondering if we had lost our minds.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at Joshua and the directions he followed… that was blind obedience! It did not make sense. It seemed so much easier to expect God just to come to the scene and perform. And yet, that is not what was asked. God required obedience before He would provide victory.
Joshua knew in the end, if obedience was completed, their victory would be Jericho. I have also been promised in the end, my obedience will bring forth victory. I have not been told exactly what that “victory” is. (I really don’t want Jericho… thanks anyway.)
I can know, however, that there is a reason for the things God is asking of me. It may not even be so much about what is being asked of me as much as what my obedience and trust is maturing and building in me.
I feel at times I am marching around the same spot, day after day, only to return to camp each time. Occasionally it does seem ludicrous, senseless, tiring, and a waste of time. But, victory can not and will not be attained until I complete the full 13 times. I must take each and every step exactly as God has commanded, regardless of how utterly insane it may be.
If I falter, if I lose heart, if I give up, even on that last lap… that would not be obedience, and therefore, would not lead to the victory intended for me.
"Often the last step is the winning step. The greatest challenge in receiving great things from God is holding on for the last half hour." ~L.B. Cowman in Streams in the Desert
So, I will not question the directions. I will sandal up for yet another trip around my wall. I will be silent as I walk, careful not to question, to complain, to wonder why… but simply to trust.
I will walk with my head held high, my shoulders square, and my mind settled that this is indeed what God has asked of me.
I will not attempt to rationalize Him, to explain Him, to excuse Him…
I will only state that I am following the directions I have been given. I will march until I am told to shout… I will take just one more step in obedience.
Blind it may be, but Obedience nonetheless...