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/

More and More

One of the major lessons that I’ve learned in the year I have been writing grant applications is that this line of work is a continuous cycle of research and writing/submitting applications.

The more I research the more grant applications I submit and therefore the more funding the agency receives.

Grant research is not always easy though. Sometimes you get stuck and can only search for funding so many different ways until you completely run out of options.

But I do it nonetheless because if I stop researching then I won’t produce any results and therefore grow stagnant in my profession.

1 Thessalonians 4 encourages us to continue on with the good already instilled in us; to do more and more of what good we have been and are currently doing.

…brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more…(vs. 1 and 10).

Do so more and more…

That sounds exhausting.

I struggle with growing idle in my faith because I often take on the ‘diet’ mentality – I do good one day so I relax in my efforts the next and eventually this cycle turns into a ‘one-step-forward-two-steps-back’ routine, ultimately cultivating a complacent heart.

This is the exact mentality that Paul warns us against, encouraging us to combat these complacent behaviors by way of continuous growth and continuous development in our faith.

John 15:4 explains that in order for us to produce; in order for us to avoid complacency, we must remain firmly attached and grounded in Jesus Christ. We are stagnant and dying only when apart from Him. It is when we remain in Him and in His Word that we grow in faith, produce fruit, and continue to do so more and more.

However, if we fail to remain in Christ as John 15:4 instructs us to, we eventually forget where our true ability to produce fruit comes from.

Take Deuteronomy 8:10-18 for example.

Verse 18 sums up this passage by instructing us to remember the Lord our God, for it is he who gives us the ability to produce, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to our ancestors, as it is today.

It is only in and through and for Jesus Christ our Lord that we produce fruit.

However, it is in pride that the wicked man does not seek him [Jesus]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  – Psalm 10:4

A complacent heart is rooted in pride. When we start believing it is from our own doing that we can produce any kind of spiritual fruit we will eventually grow stagnant because we detach ourselves from the only true source of Life.

When there is no room for God there is no room for growth nor is there room for a spirit that does good and continues to do so more and more.

Jeremiah 10:21 says that the shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flocks are scattered.

Tying in directly with John 15:4, when we are not inquiring of the Lord; if we are not rooting our lives in Him, we become senseless in our pursuits and do not prosper in our actions.

I’m learning this very lesson today as I continue growing in my writing.

In order for me to produce any kind of Godly wisdom or understanding, I must first remain completely dependent on Christ and the only way to do that is to eliminate any trace of pride that I may have in connection with my writing.

If I am at all prideful in my work, it won’t be very long before I begin relying on my own abilities, forgetting to inquire of the Lord and therefore growing complacent in my faith.

If our work is not done in and through and for Jesus Christ, then it is void of divine impact and everlasting hope.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  – John 15:4

Only in connection to the Lord our God are we able to produce any kind of good work and it is only by continuous growth in Him that we are able to do so more and more.