“We have turned our backs on God but still blame Him when things don’t go our way.”
I hurriedly wrote this quote down on the corner of my church bulletin this past Sunday.
Our pastor is on vacation and our youth pastor, Chris, is in the middle of a great series rooted in the book of Joshua. The sermon series came to be because he said his heart had been heavy with his concern of the terrible political landscape America is currently facing: mudslinging and character bashing between the candidates that is in turn dividing neighbors and friends. He reflected how the political landscape is only a small reflection of a greater problem in America: this nation has turned its back on God.
In his series, Chris has been referring to the battle of Jericho and the obedience that the Lord expected of Joshua and his army, even though His way seemed far-fetched. Joshua and his men followed God’s commands, even though I am sure that it had to have seemed like a crazy battle plan to this army of great soldiers. This is basically what God commanded: Listen Joshua, I want you to march your men around the city walls of Jericho all day long, for six days. They do not need to carry any weapons and they can’t talk; just have your priests blow some trumpets. On the 7th day, when I tell you to, you will have your guys give a great big shout and these great big ole city walls will come down. Trust me. Victory will be yours over this formidable enemy. However, then God said this: Now listen, sure, you can go in the city and take it, but any treasures you find, you know, gold, silver and all that fun stuff, well, it’s mine, you can’t keep it.” Usually, when an invading army is taking over an enemy territory, the first thing they secure is that nation’s wealth as their own. However God was saying, you can’t keep it. It needs to go back to me. It belongs to me. I am guessing this was hard to swallow naturally, for a pillaging and plundering soldier. However, after witnessing what happened to those walls just by being obedient to God, they followed his command…mostly.
There had to be that one guy, and his name was Achan, who just couldn’t help himself to some of the wealth. He tried to hide it and in turn, brought defeat to Joshua and his men. See, the day after the battle of Jericho, Joshua and his army moved onto the next town, Ai, which should have been an easy victory. Instead, they were humiliated and defeated and had to run away in shame. Naturally, Joshua got mad as heck at the Lord, blaming Him for their loss: “Whoa is me! I should’ve just stayed on the other side of the river, but no, I had to listen to you and look where that got me. Humiliated. Defeated. Man, those Canaanites are going to hear about this and wipe us out, and then what will people think of you, oh great Lord. You got us in this mess!”
God quickly shaped his butt up by letting Joshua know just whose fault their defeat at Ai was. “Look, you better check yourself, Joshua. Someone in your ranks was not obedient back there in Jericho and has something that belongs to me. As a result, you were defeated. Here’s how you can come back to me in obedience.” He gave Joshua a way to root out Achan and he also gave Joshua a way to save face, so to speak, for his little tantrum. He gave him some tough love orders. He now had to punish Achan and his family. He had to stone them to death. Then Joshua had burn Achan’s possessions, including his animals, along with the treasures they had stolen back in Jericho.
That’s some lesson, isn’t it? This story of the Israelites can absolutely be linked to why the chaos is happening in America…boy has this country as a whole been disobedient to the Lord. However, while I am concerned about the state of this country, that’s not why I wrote what Chris said down.
I wrote down the quote in a hurry because I could immediately feel its sting. I am willing to bet that so can you.
I’ve not turned my back on God in a big, defining manner the way the USA has. I’ve not stolen or cheated and tried to hide it like Achan. I’ve never renounced Him or His sovereignty. If anything, my faith in Him is stronger and more mature now than in at any other time in my life.
I have, however, time and time again, been disobedient to His teachings and commands. I then conveniently blame Him when things aren’t going my way.
I have been disobedient when I’ve wasted the afternoon away on a Netflix binge and then complained I had no time that same day to read my Bible.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted time complaining about something or someone rather than praying about it or for them.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted time reacting to my children in anger than taking time to understand how they may be feeling in a situation.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted time being jealous of a friend’s success and wallowing in self pity rather than buckling down and doing what it takes for my own success in an area.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted time being angry and bitter towards my spouse rather than praying for him.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted time looking past the man sitting outside the grocery store or sitting on the corner instead of taking five minutes to give him a food or drink or a helping hand.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted time allowing my kids to participate in too many things or spend too much time gaming. Then they are too tired at the end of the day to engage in the Word of God, even through a five minute devotional.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted my money on a whimsical purchase instead of giving it to Him.
I have been disobedient when I have wasted and wasted and wasted my time and my energy in these and similar acts of disobedience over and over and over again.
Then I get mad.
Throw myself a pity party.
Just like Joshua did.
When I am disobedient to God and what He is calling me to do in my Christian walk, I can’t get mad at Him when things aren’t going my way. If I’m not continuously working on an obedient relationship with Him (especially by studying His Word and praying) everyday, then I am not going to be aligned with Him enough to know what it is He is calling me to do, big or small. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that things are guaranteed not to go my way!
Lysa Terkerust put it beautifully in her new book, “Uninvited.” She first references the following verses on the importance of digging deep in His Word:
“If you abide in Me, My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, NASB)
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]” (Psalm 91:1 AMPC)
Here’s what Lysa says about these verses. I think it greatly sums up how easy but important it is to fix our obedience issues with Him.
“When we abide, delight, and dwell in Him, He then places within us desires that line up with His best desire for us. Therefore, He can give us whatever we ask, because we will only want what’s consistent with His best. He can fully satisfy our hearts, because they are consistent with His heart. He can promise us stability, because we are tapped into His consistent power.” (pg. 39)
“If we become enamored with something in this world we think offers better fullness than God, we will make room for it. We leak out His fullness to make room for something else we want to chase. (Emphasis mine)” (pg. 63)
It’s only through obedience found in His Word that any of us will ever get what we want out of life; because it’ll be aligned with what God wants for our lives. Our wants will be His will because we are practicing obedience to Him.
That obedience starts by spending more time in His Word. Our children can learn to treasure obedience to Him when we make it a priority in our homes to put Him first, even when we are tired. Even when the have packed schedules. Even if…He has to come first.
Until next time, remember He’s got your back!
Read my review of Lysa’s book “Uninvited,” by clicking here.
Read the entire story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho by reading Joshua 6 and 7.