Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Walking In Faith

We are all familiar with the story of Joshua and the Walls of Jericho. This happened after their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Finally, the Promised Land is within reach, Israel is ready to begin conquering the land of Canaan. But there's a barrier. A huge one. Fortified, double walls. In my prior readings of this account, my mind's eye only pictured the lower wall - and thought that was hard enough. But seeing the illustration below, well, that just blows me away.

(Photo courtesy of Answers in Genesis)

How do we penetrate these walls?

This is the battle plan God gave to Joshua. Joshua 6:2-5 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

hink how that must have sounded to Joshua - the only other survivor of the Wilderness Wanderings, seasoned and courageous military leader. But he obeyed. They marched once around the city for six days, led by the seven priests who blew the ram's horn or "shofar" (used as a signal in battle). But no one was allowed to talk. On the seventh day, they marched around seven times and the result takes us to Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

The walls fell down after Joshua's obedience.

In our lives we encounter the Walls of Jericho as well. They may surround our loved ones. In some instances, they may even surround us. Walls of anger, fortified by resentment and bitterness. Walls of loneliness, coupled with despair and hopelessness. God shows us the answer here. We who are on the outside looking in are told to walk in faith. But then we question: "This is the plan? March in circles and say nothing?" In our impatience, we cannot just wait in silence, we run off and try to chip a brick here and a brick there. We offer sage advice but it falls on deaf ears. The walls remain. Nothing happens.

We would do well to follow the example of Joshua. Walk in faith and realize that we need to blow the ram's horn as well. It is a battle but it is not ours to fight on our own. It is said in Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
We are no match for the "principalities" and "powers" that prop up the Walls around us. But God is and He has given us the battle plan. We walk by faith. And we blow the ram's horn of prayer. We let God's word, the Sword of the Spirit, fight our battles. And just like in Jericho, the walls will fall down - from the inside.

Monday, May 10, 2010

On Birthdays and Mother's Day

On Saturday, my younger son "Phineas" celebrated his 10th birthday party at the Ice Arena with 15 friends. It went well considering he has never ice skated before. But all of them had fun even the two friends who suffered minor injuries 10 minutes before the end of the 3-1/2 hour party. We then had family over to our house for an after-party party.

On Mother's Day, Phineas and I went to the first service at church where our Pastor shared all the things that happened during their recent outreach in Iraq. God is working in a mighty way in the Middle East. I left church wondering why we do not see great manifestations of God's work here. But as the day unfolded, I realized God is not just working over there, He is working here, too.

Our family planned to meet at a favorite Chinese restaurant for dim sum. Unfortunately, the rest of our town had the same plan. So instead of waiting 2 hours for 12 of us to be seated, I called my siblings to tell them I am just going to order food to go. Since they were still at my Dad's house (punctuality is not our family's strong suit), I told them to we will just go there with the food.

Ordering dim sum off a list is not as much fun as watching the carts pass by to see what looks good. There was a little confusion - uhm, no I didn't want THAT. They were trying to speak to me in Chinese which I could not understand at all. Granted, I took a year of Mandarin but that was over 20 years ago. The only phrase I remember translates to "Where is the cat?" which is neither helpful nor appropriate in this situation. Eventually, I made it out of there with a decent amount of food for all of us.

I don't know which part of "We'll meet you there" my brother did not understand. In my book, "there" means we will come to wherever location you happen to be. Stay put. Do not move. Certainly, do not drive 30 miles to our house because we're heading in the opposite direction. Since two families are heading to our house, we were outnumbered and had no choice but to turn around. Hosting another family event AFTER the birthday party the day before was not how I wanted to celebrate Mother's Day. So there was some major pouting going on.

But you know what? God has plans that we know nothing about.

When we got home, I noticed that my sister-in-law was limping. She said she woke up with pain in her right foot from skating. (Ok, so make that 3 injuries). Well, the Urgent Care is 5 minutes from my house and they accept my brother's out of town insurance. So, I took my sister-in-law there and she was diagnosed with a torn ligament. They gave her crutches and some meds to help with the pain. That's why God engineered the event to take place at our house. If we had gone to my Dad's as I had planned, she never would have gone to the urgent care facility because of the distance.

My sister-in-law is not a believer and I am thankful that after I had calmed down, I was able to minister to her and help her. I would like to think that maybe like the believers in Iraq, she saw a little bit of the love of Jesus through me. God certainly works in mysterious ways, in big ways and in small. I am just glad and grateful that He gives us the privilege to be a part of it.