I have to be upfront with you before we get going on this blog topic today. Reading through the accounts of Joshua and Chapter 7 of the Story make me uncomfortable and a bit troubled. There is a lot of death, killing and utter destruction. I would really love to tell you that I have figured out ways of making myself comfortable with this or explain it away, but Christians can not avoid these pieces or simply just make them symbolic pictures.

After struggling with this topic for some time I have concluded that I am not supposed to be comfortable with this. It is true that the Bible contains graphic stories of sin, evil, and death. But it also includes the overarching grand narrative of love, redemption and grace. It showcases a God who asks us to not criticize him about his acts of justice, but instead come alongside him and grieve over a world that has misused the gift of freedom and has picked evil instead of good. When that does occur, God acts in righteousness, and the world discovers that consequences exist for evil behavior. The Prophet Isaiah speaks to this when he says:

“At night my soul longs for you, indeed, my spirit within me seeks you diligently; for when the earth experiences your judgements the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)

As you read these difficult stories, join me in lamenting the horrific acts and the justice that demanded God to act in punishment. In the same way we can also see the wonderful picture of love and faithfulness that the Old Testament highlights as God’s foremost character.

On to the story…

Imagine for a moment that our military was going to face a battle with an enemy that was in a territory unfamiliar to them. This is their strategy: we are going to go over there and fight, but I don’t know how we are going to get there. We are not going to bring any weapons to fight with but bring along the guitar.  Does this sound like the beginnings of a plan that you would think would be successful? I don’t think so.

The strategy for the Israelites was not much different. Joshua says to the people we are going to cross the Jordan river, but I don’t know how. When we finally get to Jericho and face our first big battle, don’t bring your weapons, but instead bring the horns because that is all you will need. Would you be the first to sign up for that fight? I know I wouldn’t.

How much time do we spend on strategy? I think we spend a lot of time in strategy without ever getting to execution. We want to plan everything out, figure out worse case scenarios, map out every move and stick with the plan. If the strategy doesn’t look good or it doesn’t work out in your head you will not be willing to move forward. Planning is good and should be thought of…but our own failures can get caught up in the strategy.

We learn about a simplified version of strategy with the Israelites when the battle begins. For the first battle there is no other strategy than this – Trust God! If this battle was going to be won the people needed to know that it was going to be by God’s hand and not by their strategy, hand or weapons. It took 40 years of wandering to learn this.

We are facing battles everyday. Maybe we are not facing the huge battles everyday, but maybe we can learn in the small battles before we face the huge ones. We can learn from them today and hopefully not have it take 40 years. When you are facing a battle, let’s spend more time with God and his path and direction and less time on our strategy and direction. Could it be this easy? Let’s find out.

What have you learned through time about trusting God?