Reading Joshua 6 this week, I found myself a little amazed by the Israelite people. The event of this Chapter is the walls of Jericho being brought down. Up to this point, God had brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, he had helped them for forty years in the desert, feeding them manna and providing for them. Our God is a God of miracles, He is all powerful and capable of immeasurable things. And then, the Israelite people arrive in the promise land and the walls of Jericho need to come down, and instead of God snapping His fingers and doing that for them, He calls the army of the people to march. He tells them to march around the entire city blowing trumpets every day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day. Such a bizarre request, such a strenuous task and yet nowhere in this chapter, does it say ‘the Israelites complained’ or ‘the Israelites were impatient and tried to bring the wall down in their own strength’.
It probably says a lot about me that these thoughts came to my mind. I wouldn’t say that I’m an impatient person. Not really in an obvious way; I’m not a road-rage horn-honking kind of impatient, or a watch-checking foot stamping in the queue kind of impatient. But I think perhaps I am impatient in other ways - if I order clothes online, I want next day delivery, I don’t want to wait; when I bought my car, I wanted to pick it up immediately; I’m saving up for a house and I desperately want to have the money to afford it right now and move into a home tomorrow. I think this is a quality that I share with a lot of people my age, our generation have grown up in a world of instant gratification, instant messaging, next-day delivery, live-streaming and binge watching. But it’s not just us, everyone alive today is living in this world of immediacy and instant responses, we don’t have to wait for anything, and we resent it when we do.
Some people close to me have recently had incredibly generous gifts given to them, things that I am working hard to afford, and I felt this horrible impatience sneak up on me. The awful thoughts of ‘I want it now’ and ‘why do I have to work so hard for something that can be so freely and easily given to others?’. I thought on this for a while, and felt that if I was an Israelite I probably would have responded in this way then too - I became very aware of the flaw in my own personality.
But it is through this negative quality in myself, that I realised that sometimes God calls us to do hard work, He calls us to put the effort in, He calls us to provide for ourselves. God is all powerful and loving, and He could provide everything for us without needing a thing from us, but He also wants what’s best for us, and sometimes that means we have to make a journey, take the steps for ourselves and earn our reward. If everything in my life was given to me instantly, and I didn’t have to work for any of it - what value would it hold? If God provided manna for the Israelites even once they arrived in the promise land, they wouldn’t learn to feed themselves, and they wouldn’t appreciate how awesome it was that God provided what they needed exactly when they needed it. I appreciate what I have more because I earned it, and I’ve learnt a lot through the journeys I’ve taken to get me here.
God calls us to do all kinds of things, and He always gives us the tools to do it, whether we realise it at the time or not. The Israelites had trumpets and God called them to march - those things don’t immediately scream “the walls are coming down” to me. But the Israelites had faith, they trusted in God, they worked hard and followed his instructions, and on the seventh day they took the city just as He said they would. The Israelites didn’t complain that marching around a city multiple times was hard work, they didn’t argue that it wasn’t the most effective way of bringing the walls down, they didn’t question God or ask Him to do it for them, they just did what He called them to do. This is such a challenge and one I myself struggle with. I know that I should trust unconditionally in God, I know that He has good plans for me, and I know that in patiently believing in Him and putting in the hard work He calls me to do; He will do incredible things through me.
God brought the Israelites through so much. He promised to do amazing things for them, to free them and to bring them to the promise land, and He made good on every single one of those promises. The Israelites trusted Him, they were faithful to Him just as He was to them. God is faithful to me, He has brought me through so many challenges and struggles, He has called me and kept every promise to prosper me. So I should trust Him now, when He says “work hard, it’ll be okay” I should have faith in that - after all, He’s never let me down before. I need to leave the season of instant gratification behind me and learn to patiently wait on the Lord, and I challenge you to do the same. So that when God says to us "blow your trumpet and march" we don't question Him, we don't impatiently wish for an easier way; but we trust in Him, we do as He asks, and we live out His awesome plans for us.