The Walls Came Tumbling Down

A good portion of my middle school and high school summers were spent at Timberlake Ranch Camp.

While I’ve never been too good with heights, I have gotten a lot better over the years. When I was younger though, I was absolutely terrified of heights, which is why I very distinctly remember the day that our cabin spent the afternoon at the ropes course.

I was fine with sitting off on the side watching everyone else suspend at what seemed like great, great heights (in hindsight, I guess they weren’t really that high), but my cabin leader wasn’t about to let that happen.

Next thing I knew I was being strapped into a harness as I fearfully (and probably tearfully) looked up and down this massive rock wall that I was supposed to scale.

Yeah, right.

We’ll just say that it took me for-e-ver and leave it at that.

When I think back on that moment as I looked up and down that wall, I remember feeling so tiny; almost helpless.

Perhaps this was how Joshua felt as he approached the looming wall of Jericho.

The challenge before him seemed so massive up against the very simple, almost humorously meek instructions he had been given.

The rock wall I faced seemed massive while the encouragement and instruction my cabin leader gave seemed almost too simple – just one step after the other.

That was it!?

“March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. On the sevenths day, march around the city seven times…when you hear a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up…” (Joshua 6:3-5).

Just one step after the other.

The mundane and routine nature of these instructions given to Joshua lacked any and all zeal or passion. They simply had to take a walk.

Where was the challenge in that?

Better yet, where was the awesome story that he would get to tell all of his buddies afterwards?

These instructions not only lacked excitement and challenge, but they also lacked any means by which to gain personal glory or recognition for Joshua and his people.

In fact, their job was almost embarrassing it was so simple.

Perhaps the mundane nature of God’s instructions for His people served two very important purposes –

  1. To point His people to the true source of their zeal and passion; and
  2. To place 100% of the glory for this victory at the feet of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Our zeal should never come from what we are capable of doing on our own but rather from the knowledge that He has never failed us and He won’t start now.

We simply have to serve the Lord, taking one step after the other, and He will do the rest.

When the task at hand seems too big for the meek instructions given, our zeal should not falter. If grounded and rooted deep in the knowledge that we serve a God who cannot fail, our zeal will forever burn within our souls, lighting our passions with an all-consuming fire.

Even when our steps of submission, one after the other, seem fruitless, we can march forth in the confidence that God does not waste our obedience.

This concept goes far beyond a mere rock wall at summer camp though.

We all have some pretty serious walls that we are facing, don’t we?

Perfectionism.

Expectations. 

Comparisons.

Discontentment.

Pride.

Frenzy and Busyness.

These are all walls that I have faced and some that I am currently facing today.

My perfectionism, for example has caused me to believe that I simply cannot afford to make a mistake.

This is something that I struggle with in many facets of my life, including work, service, ministry, and relationships.

I often find myself daily dealing with ‘paralysis by analysis,’ which in turn creates a very busy and almost panicked lifestyle.

We all have walls, and though “days one through six” might be painful, routine, and seemingly fruitless, we can still place one foot in front of the other in full confidence that God still stands.

Even if you find yourself still looking up and down your wall, remember that you are always in the hands of God.

When these walls remain resolute in our lives as we obediently and prayerfully seek to change our behaviors, instead of turning inward and wondering what is wrong with us, we should instead praise God!

Praise Him for putting walls in your life that cause you to fall to your knees.

And as we praise Him, remember the walls that He has destroyed in the past.

Look back and remember all the trials He has guided you through with His loving, gentle hands and believe that you will see Him do it again!

When those walls do fall though and the destructive behaviors that have for the longest time kept your from God’s passion and dream for your life fade away, it is very important that you follow God’s instructions found in Joshua 6:18.

But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.

When God destroys our walls on “day seven,” no remnant can remain.

This means that after “seven days” of surrender and obedience to Christ when my wall of perfectionism is finally destroyed, I cannot continue holding onto those old behaviors.

I will be tempted as I’m sure the Israelites were tempted to take the gold and silver for their own, but their devotion and complete surrender to the Lord was necessary in the total destruction of the city, which in turn gave passageway to the Promised Land.

God has a sure path to get you from where you are right now to His passion and His dream for your life.

There will be some walls along the way, but remain faithful.

Trust that God will work through the mundane days, even when they might seem fruitless.

And when “day seven” finally does arrive and you see redemption play out before your very eyes, surrender entirely.

Hold nothing back. Let those destructive behaviors and habits go, whatever they may be – perfectionism, doubt, constant need for control, sarcasm, busyness, solitude, pride, etc.

Whatever behavior it might be, surrender it completely to God, devoting all that remains to Him and His glory and watch as your walls come tumbling down.

 

Some of the ideas for this blog post came from a sermon I listened to a couple weeks ago by Pastor Jeff at New Life Church. Check out this link if you’d like to listen to the sermon – http://mynewlifechurch.com/series/playlist/

A Prayer for the Expectant Heart

Thank you God for not placing expectations on me.

Thank you for dying on the cross so that I would no longer have to live under the law of this world, but rather under the law of grace.

Thank you for allowing me a life where I can live in full expectancy of seeing new mercies every morning.

Open my eyes to the expectations that I place on others that surpass reason; where the ideal exceeds reality.

Show me how I am placing unreasonable and selfish expectations on my loved ones to satisfy any void that only you can fill.

When I seek affirmation, remind me that it is only you O’ God that upholds and affirms me.

  • My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).
  • Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds the righteous (Psalm 37:17).
  • In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever (Psalm 41:12).
  • The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14).

When I seek happiness, remind me that it is the joy of your name that strengthens me.

  • Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
  • The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song (Psalm 28:7).
  • When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul (Psalm 94:19).
  • Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as your trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

When I seek approval, remind me that it is only for you that I live, that you O’ God may be praised and I unnoticed.

  • For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
  • For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

When I seek fulfillment, remind me that you are the God who fills all things in every way.

  • …the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23).
  • I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).
  • It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  • For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority (Colossians 2:9-10).

Bless me with unmeasurable grace towards others, that I might not place unrealistic expectations on them, but extend the same love and grace that you have shown me.

May my contentment come entirely from your promises and truths, O’ God.

Help me recognize the plank in my own eye before addressing the speck in another’s eye (Matthew 7:3).

Give me grace to live in expectancy rather than expectation; to respond to others in love rather than place responsibility on them, that we may not be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).

May I be a vessel of love and grace rather than expectations and responsibilities.

May it be so – Amen.