“You silly little pickle, you tiny little peas, to think that walking ’round this wall will bring this city to it’s knees.”
I have always been a fan of the french peas in that cinematic masterpiece Josh and Big Wall…they were always witty and honestly they said what everyone else is thinking – “you’re crazy.” In Joshua 5, Joshua is greeted by the commander of the Lord’s Army. The very name, “commander of the Lord’s Army” sounds like a big deal. This angel of the Lord tells Joshua “the plan” – “Walk around the city of Jericho one time a day for six days and on those days take with you seven priests with seven trumpets. On the seventh day, walk around seven times, have the priests blow the horns, and shout really loud – the city will then crumble so you can take it.” I’m not gonna lie…if I were in Joshua’s shoes…I’m singing with the french pea and drinking his slushy. At the outset it sounds crazy…while they’re doing it, it probably feels crazy, but then something happens – the walls actually come down. The biblical lesson as per Veggie Tales was all about obedience. I think that’s pretty spot on, but I think it’s also about faithfulness. As Bob tells Junior at the end, God’s ways may not always make sense, but His way of doing things is always the best. We’re called to be obedient, God is absolutely faithful as we are obedient.
It’s funny how a silly little computer animated film can so easily and simply cut to the core of biblical truth. Over the past couple of years Jenifer and I have certainly had our share of those “God’s ways may not always make sense” moments. Whether it was our initial move from the midwest to Washington without jobs and knowing no one, or our move south to San Diego and our subsequent journey into the world of support raising, and even now our exciting foray into overseas ministry in Spain. We have encountered a number of instances where we knew we were supposed to do what God had called us to and yet, we heard those french peas. “You’re crazy, that doesn’t make any sense, why would you do that.” Sometimes we heard those very things from people around us, sometimes we battled those thoughts in our own heads, but like clockwork they would come and creep in as we stepped into God’s direction for our lives. But as we cut through those lies, we saw God’s faithfulness shine through.
The thing about the Jericho narrative is that it’s almost always connected in sermons, books, and studies, to what is God calling you to that’s so huge, so crazy, so massive that you simply have to trust him in. While I think that is certainly a big part of that narrative what I think gets overlooked is the day to day. Here’s what I mean: in a lot of ways it’s easier to pinpoint those momentous times in our lives where we’re asked to follow God and we simply have to really trust him in our obedience. But I’ve been noticing more and more that those “God’s ways may not always make sense” moments pop up day in and day out…a lot of times we’re too busy or too distracted to realize it. In fact the more and more I interact with neighbors, friends, and partners in ministry I’m reminded of how real this is. Countless times I’ve talked to people who have felt they were supposed to start doing something and they let those french peas and their sticky slushies get in the way. Or, they we’re supposed to say something to a stranger or friend that they never did because they were too scared. Or, they were supposed to apply for a job that they were just sure they’d never get.
I’m convinced that too often we let fear get in the way of what God has for us each and every day…not just in the big things. The fear of being viewed as the weird one. The fear of being dead wrong. The fear of falling flat on our faces. You name it…all of us have faced it.
A couple of months ago while we were in Spain prayer walking through the neighborhood we’ll be moving into, I felt like God was saying that we needed to stop and talk to one of the local store owners. I almost didn’t say anything to my friend as we walked…the inner monologue began, “was that really God’s nudge?” “We already walked past the place, maybe next time” “What would I even say?” “You don’t speak much Spanish.” …but I did say something to my friend and so we walked back towards the store. As we interacted with the store owner we quickly realized he wasn’t interested in engaging us at all. We spoke briefly with him and went on our way. I look back at that interaction and think…”What was the point?” “Was that God really nudging me to go in that store?” I don’t know…but I trust God does…and regardless, I am beginning to realize that it’s far more damaging to not follow God’s lead than it is to step into something I feel God is calling me to and seemingly have nothing happen. More on that in a minute.
Just recently I was headed out to the beach at Coronado for some early morning quiet time. As I got out of my car to head down to the beach I crossed paths with an older woman, we exchanged polite “good mornings” and went on our separate ways. Except as I walked further down toward the beach I continually felt God saying, “go back and talk to her.” Everything within me wanted to just sit on the beach read my bible and pray. And so I began the process of trying to shove that initial encounter and subsequent word from God down into the deepest depths of my inner being so I didn’t have to actually do it. And wouldn’t you know it, it just so happened that I came to Joshua 5 and 6 for my morning reading…God’s got a great sense of humor…As I sat at the edge of water and began reading and praying I couldn’t shake it. And so I began reasoning with God…”well if she’s still there when I’m done.” “What do I even say?” But I knew what I had to do…blow past the fear of failure, the fear of being wrong, the fear of rejection and just simply trust God for whatever was going to occur. So I began the walk back toward the car where she was sitting on a bench. The whole walk back was an internal battle and prayer. I got up to the car and even did a walk past covered up by my “need” to put the blanket away before I talked to her. And then I went for it. And for the next 30 minutes I heard a story of someone trying to faithfully walk with God through tragedy, frustration, and a whole lot of battles. I simply listened for the better part of 30 minutes to God’s story in her life and how he was changing her and shaping her, and what a struggle it’s all been. I had an opportunity to speak words of encouragement, blessing, and truth into her life in only a few short sentences as she did most the talking…but as we left, she gave me a hug and said a couple of times…God really did have us cross paths today, thanks for listening… And that was it. Nothing momentous, nothing revolutionary; but simple obedience that led to an opportunity to listen and encourage someone who needed encouraging.
I would have never done that on my own, that’s just not my personality…but God’s ways aren’t my own. And what I’ve begun to learn more and more is that sometimes I think God is simply asking us to be faithful, whether its the little or big things. I think he simply wants us to be faithful. I am thankful that part of the process of hearing God clearly is making mistakes, it’s stepping into things that God isn’t necessarily calling us into (maybe that was the case in Spain, maybe not), but that even in that we learn how to better discern His voice and we certainly get better at discerning the voices that come from the french peas and recognizing them as lies. As we’ve been here in San Diego, we’ve seen countless times God has asked us to step out in faith, both big and small. My prayer is that as I sense God leading us I would be faithful like Joshua was faithful…I’m reminded of the battle cry of the book of Joshua…“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
If that’s true…I must step with confidence and trust God for the results…worrying more about being faithful than what others think of me…that and I must throw all those slushies back in the french peas’ faces.