Marching orders.

vintage-3168021_1280I love, LOVE to hear my dad’s stories about then he was in Navy!  Back when Bill Haley and his Comets were getting ready to Rock Around the Clock, Dad was off overseas on some semi-covert operation, serving his country, doing the things that Uncle Sam thinks invincible 19-year-olds can do. 

I’m thinking that, at the time of Dad’s tour, we weren’t technically at war with anyone, but we all know what that means.  Realistically, we’re always at war with someone, even if it’s under the radar, especially to those of us back home.  There are always enemies, and it behooves us to keep some operations covert, I suppose.

A prime example of this is Joshua and the conquest of Jericho.  With help of the Expositor’s Commentary, I find some interesting parallels—

no-symbol-39767_1280The Israelites had not yet encountered a walled city like Jericho; this had to be intimidating to the roaming former Egyptian slaves. What new situations do I come up against that threaten my comfort zone? 

 

world-war-2827031_1280Concerning the land, God told them, “I have given to you…” meaning it was already a done deal, but here’s the thing—they still had to fight for it. Yes, they had their priests (worship), but they also had their warriors (spiritual warfare).  As an example, my children are “a heritage of the Lord”, they are part of my “land”.  As such, I must fight for them as God gives me wisdom, but fight for them from the place of secured victory, not fear or anxiety.

passion-3111303_1920.pngJoshua’s situation was a “religious event”: “…the presence of priests, and the prominence of the ark all indicate that the conquest of Jericho was more than a military campaign; it was a religious event. Israel must always remember that the land was God’s gift to them.”  My circumstances aren’t merely about me either; it’s ultimately about God, His plan for eternity, His kingdom.

choir-303302_1280Praise and declaration come before the victory. The priests were very conspicuous in this procession, and they were also the ones sounding the trumpets.  These can represent both praise to God and the sound of war.  As God’s “royal priesthood”, we are to be involved in both; in fact, they are inextricably linked.  Walking around that wall for six days was an act of obedient faith—so is praise and worship.

checklist-1316848_1280God gave the people specific instructions that were not part of the normal battle plan of the day. Can you imagine Joshua’s mighty commanders when they received their orders?  (“You want us to do what??”) Not unlike the family of Noah who had never heard of rain, or even the disciples of Jesus who couldn’t fathom their King nailed to a cross, God has ways of doing things that can be off the wall.  To borrow from the secular: “Just do it.”

question-1243504_1280The commentary also brings out the tedium of continued marching for six days. This was not a stroll in the park.  They were in enemy territory, so there may have been arrows (and who knows what else—ewww!) flying from the walls.  Sometimes my obediently praying and obstinately living God’s plan for my life becomes tiring.  But God says I am not to grow weary in doing good.  Again, from the commentary, “This senseless marching may have completely demoralized the defenders, who would have been totally confused about what was going on.” I can bank on it: persistent prayer and praise demoralizes my Enemy.  (I rather like that one.)

“Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.”

Joshua 6:20 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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It was a set-up!

chess-2489553_1920I don’t play Chess.  That is to say, I know the basic rules, but like football, there are more intricacies than I care to ponder.  What little I know, however, helps me to appreciate those that really are quite adept at the game. 

As I understand it, the goal is to capture the opponent’s king.  Period.  That’s the goal.  It doesn’t matter how many pieces you have left when that king bows to your strategic prowess.  It doesn’t matter which piece gets the king; even a pawn can do that!  Every piece has a specific function and, yes, there are sacrifices to be made along the way.  It’s all a challenge, not of chance, but of resiliently setting up the next move, anticipating each opportunity, and patiently allowing the plan to unfold. 

I imagine true chess masters can also recognize the strategy of their opponent.  They’ve seen this move before, and won’t allow the trap to entangle them. 

A comment that I’ve not quite been able to live down from one of our family reunions was when I asked if anyone would like to play a “quick game of Chess”, not wholly unlike asking for a quick game of Monopoly.  Such a thing does not exist, (unless you’re playing with me, I suppose.)

Hmmmm….

Patience in life is not one of our culturally intrinsic qualities.  Spiritually, however, it is a must.  I love God’s “suddenlies”, His intervening grace when what I’ve been praying for happens “above and beyond all I can ask or imagine”.  Like when Peter was miraculously released from prison and was left standing to knock on the door of the praying disciples.  Or when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles as the same Peter was in the middle of his discourse to them about Jesus.  Or the initial “Light, be!” in Genesis chapter one.

Yeah, those are nice.

Unfortunately, I’m not quite so great concerning God’s “set ups”.  I want to mentally and emotionally check things off my prayer list a little faster than seems to be happening in my very linear timeline and limited perspective.  There are relationships I desperately want restored.  There are needs I don’t see being met.

Then I remember: the goal is the king.  And I’m not a mere pawn, but a servant, with moves in the game that are assigned to me specifically.  I cannot do what a knight or a rook or a queen can do, but I can be part of the set up for the end result, protecting my King and going after the opponent’s. 

And, importantly, allowing myself to be moved, empowered, guided by the Master, regardless of personal sacrifice in the interest of the Goal, will require learning to hear Him more acutely.  That is my foremost strategy.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

My second is tenacity.  As much as I would love a sudden “checkmate” on my formidable enemy, my Master has other things in mind that by necessity must be set up.  I may not (probably won’t) see or understand what He is doing in the present tense, but that does not preclude my responsibility to hang in there. 

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

chess-2776289_1920The game isn’t over yet.

Your move.

John 10:27; Galatians 6:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

More than first day jitters

wood 2This week I had my last “first” day of the kiddos returning to school.  As if that isn’t enough to make a school nurse’s hair stand on end, add to it that I work at public middle school, where hormones run rampant and drama is just a part of life.  Everything from “do you have any Super Glue for my broken [plastic, garishly painted, glamor] fingernail” to where-did-I-put-my-multi-page-child-abuse-form,…it tends to land in my office. 

I have a well-worn path to the Counseling Center, (not always just for the students, mind you.)  God bless them…lots. Continue reading “More than first day jitters”