Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Walls

Sunday was a worship experience unlike any given Sunday. You see last week our pastor presented us with the "Jericho Challenge." The Old Testament story is familiar to me, one I've read to my son a number of times. One I learned myself even as a child. The wandering in the wilderness was over - except the giant wall standing between God's Chosen People and their Promised Land. How could God have brought them all this way only to land them in front of an impossible, impenetrable wall? They had their very literal marching orders: March around the wall six days and say nothing. Just march. On the seventh day march around seven times and shout and blow their horns. They weren't supposed to fight, climb or knock it down. All they had to do was march then shout and the walls would come down. With very little effort on their part, actually. All it required was faith and obedience.

Our own Jericho challenge began with a week-long process to identify and pray against the walls in our lives that need to come down. Was it something preventing intimacy with the Lord? Maybe an obstacle or trial? A wall of impossibility? I took the challenge seriously because, being blatantly honest, we are facing some giant walls. Unscaleable in my opinion. But nothing God doesn't know about and already have a sovereign plan for. I prayed. I begged God - just like I have been doing for weeks, months. There's something about writing out your requests and your prayers. Making your prayers known before God in a way that you can visualize and recognize that nothing is impossible for Him. Knowing my God CAN make those walls fall. And on Sunday morning I stood with others claiming in faith and I prayed and shouted and asked God to TEAR DOWN THE WALLS.

You know what I know about the Enemy? He is real, lurking, seeking whom he may devour. He knows exactly where our weaknesses lie, the chinks in our armor where he can target us. He can't claim my soul but he can surely attack my spirit and knock me to the ground. If I'm not armed and ready, I may be rendered useless. You know what I know about God? He is good, faithful, just, merciful, loving, Sovereign. But over all this, over everything, He is victorious. The Enemy may be able to knock us down, cause discouragement, even seemingly defeat us - but we are more than conquerors through Christ. The same power that rose Jesus from the grave is the power available to us to defeat the Enemy and cause those walls to fall.

This isn't some Old Testament fairy tale. This is putting feet to our faith. Sure, I admit I thought the Baptist preacher had gone a little Pentecostal on us because this was definitely "out of the ordinary" for our semi-conservative-somewhat-contemporary church. It was certainly a deviation from our traditional service. But it was also Spirit-filled and Spirit-lead and spiritually uplifting to publicly stand and claim in faith that we were asking God to bring the walls crashing down. In this case I was being asked to do the unthinkable. It had nothing to do with how uncomfortable I may have been to shout in church. It had everything to do with surrendering control. Relinquishing the fact that God wasn't asking for my action or involvement. He was simply commanding me to obey, trust and believe.

I stand here today and cannot tell you that I've now successfully taken possession of my Promised Land. But I can stand here today and tell you that what feels impossible has now been proven to be something God is working out for my good. The walls that have seemed impenetrable are literally falling down around me as I watch in wonder at how God is working. The rubble around me could seem like a mess but these are the stones from which I'll build an altar of remembrance to honor the way my Almighty Sovereign God has been at work. What I realized on Sunday is that the God of the Old Testament Jericho walls is the same God of my very present time of need. Today I will stand on the rooftops and shout out my praise to Him! My good, deserving, Sovereign, wall-crushing God!

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