We've been listening to a song about Jericho on a family album, and there's a line that goes, "They kept on marching and a'marching and a'marching and a'marching 'till the glory of the Lord was all around!"
So many themes, new and old, emerge out of Jericho every single time I read the story, but today as I'm reading it, I'm thinking about the glory of God. The fall of the wall was perfectly directed and executed to make a way for all of us to learn - the Israelites then and me now - that obedience to the Plan, however strange it seems, is the way to great glory for God. So little did the Israelites actually have to do, except to obey.
Personal performance and the idol of perfection have been stressing and tempting me lately; we've taken up a venture in business where our success is greatly dependent on reviews and the words of other people. I'm subject to their scrutiny and opinion, and I know every detail that they're reviewing will not be perfect. I have tried to finish up the project for a "final time" at least seven times, and each time I have still walked away with something that could still be better. Perfection feels, and is, very elusive, and it is impossible for me on my own to complete the work I've been called to do. At the same time, every step on the path to this point has been gently placed before us by God; every single detail has been attended to by Him. The only times things haven't worked out as I had hoped and I took matters into my own hands, I later realized God fully intended to provide, but I hadn't been patient enough. Throughout the whole project, He has been asking only that I follow and obey according to His plan, not using my own force but allowing His force to work through me to accomplish what I'd been asked to do. He's just been asking me to march, so that His glory could be fully revealed to me. Perhaps I did the project, but I know deep in my heart that I did not... it was Him. So the temptation to depend entirely on my personal performance fades when I view my role as simply obedience. I do need to strive to do it well - I need to seek the wisdom and the resources to do it as best I can, and I need to ask God for strength. But my task is to obey.
So God took care of the project, and in my spiritual life, perfection was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. When I open myself up, expose my work or my heart, make myself vulnerable, I still fall within His protection. He has a plan that requires me only to obey and to do the things He puts in front of me, and He is capable of glory whether I "succeed" or "fail" in the eyes of men. When He is my only audience, my tendency to turn to my idol of personal performance takes a nosedive. I realize again and again, that on a scale so great as God's, I cannot... but through the strength of Christ, I can.
Habakkuk 3:19 in the Amplified version of the Bible is so very relevant to this:
"The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];
He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [a]high places [of challenge and responsibility]."
a. The troubled times of life may actually be the “high places” of spiritual growth for the believer who remains stable when tested by God.
From Streams in the Desert today:
As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him" (Deut. 32:11-12).
Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.
--The Song of Victory
"When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath."