A few months ago, in one weekends time, the same story from the Bible was brought to my attention 3 times in 3 completely different and unrelated circumstances.
As I stood at the back of the Destin Life Center listening to our new Mayor share the story of the Walls of Jericho coming down, I remember thinking, “Ok God, what is up with this story?” In one of my Old Testament classes in college, I did an exegesis paper on this story and Rahab. Therefore, I know it…well. The difficult thing with pieces of scripture that you know well, is sometimes they become mundane and ordinary. However, that particular weekend, God had given me fresh ears to hear and had highlighted pieces of the story to me.
The parts that stood out to me were the 7 days, silence, and the words “the walls came down flat.” As I continued to have my silent conversation with God about this, I was asking, “Ok, what does this mean to me?” I heard “fast.” I argued back. “I have family coming to town this weekend, friends in town next weekend, and a trip the next.” He told me, “Not now. 7 days, fasting, silence.” I went about my next few weeks keeping that order in mind but going about my normal business. I wasn’t really sure when I would “have” to do it, but it didn’t really sound fun… let’s face it… I like food. I definitely like to talk… and 7 days with out both?? Excuse me?? What in the world is He thinking?? However, at that moment, I had my answer and it was “not now.”
Then. About a month later. One morning, a Tuesday, I woke up and was doing my quiet time, and the word I got was “tomorrow.” I immediately knew what the reference was. The next day was the day to start the 7 day fast. I began asking more questions. After all, He can’t ask me to do something like that with out me needing some details! What was revealed to me in the study of Joshua 6 was that I was to fast from food for 7 days (not drink, whew, it’s best when I have my coffee), be silent in a particular friendship, and pray, pray, pray that walls come down flat in different areas of my life (family, friends, myself and God, ministry, the church etc). It felt like a tall order.
In the past I did some fasting in high school for a Bible class as we were studying Richard Foster’s Celebration of the Disciplines…and I really don’t think I understood. It is a great book though; I was just young. In college, I fasted for 11 days one time at the beginning of the year because my Pastor at my church had asked the congregation. Then a few times I have given up things for lent, and have grown in knowing what it means to die to yourself. However, I had never been called to fast “alone.” Those other times, I had other believers doing it with me. This time it was ordered and decreed for me, not me and a group of people. Therefore, I figured there must be a reason. The reason you fast typically is to give up something, take the time you would use on that and dedicate it to study, prayer, and communion with God…and to remind yourself to die to your fleshly desires in order to remind yourself that you submit to God first and foremost. Also, people fast when they are seeking direction on a decision. It helps them clear out other things in order to hear God’s direction and voice more clearly. I was both nervous and excited about what God had in store. I decided to let my mentor, 2 friends, and my mom know about the details, and I asked them to pray. Then I started the journey.
I truly did try to replace my eating time with prayer… that meant my quiet time in the morning increased. My lunch time somedays was used in fellowship with friends at work, counseling, and other times I would go to the quiet place at my church building (yes, we have one, and it is great). At night, I would spend more time in worship, prayer, and sometimes go to the quiet place if I was distracted. A few times during those “meal times” I would high tail it over to the beach for some study and prayer. I was studying the story that had inspired the fast (Joshua 6) along with Isaiah 40-45. My theme scripture for the year (Isaiah 43:19) is smack in the middle of that so I was studying that and the surrounding pieces. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant. Soaking up new truths. Reading scriptures that were painted on the walls of my youth room growing up became painted on my heart. I was literally on a spiritual high.
In the midst of that, there was some crazy things happening… being asked to come pray over places with evil spirits, doing counseling for families that mirrored events that had happened in my own family (for such a time is this that I am here right?), a couple situations I was praying about escalated in tension, and then, breakthrough… on the 6th day…there was breakthrough in every area I had been praying over but 1. When I say breakthrough, I mean, God affirming things, God continuing to move in and take over, and God opening new doors.
However, that 1 area, the walls weren’t flat. I came home that night confused. Asking, “Wait a second, why are the walls flat in all these areas on the 6th day? Why is that one area not taken care of?” That one area did kind of seem like a “big booger” of a wall. I got home a little late, but continued to worship and pray. I finally went to bed thinking, “He will solve this in the morning.”
I got a call in the middle of the night…and the news I received would set into motion the last wall coming down. Bam.
I share this not to say “Wow, look how holy I am. I fasted.” Because I am not… I share it because it is abnormal for me. God has put me in the fire multiple times to work on me… sometimes in the form of punishment, reaping what I sowed, or even just being hurt (not because He hurt me, but because I refused to listen). He chose to refine me in a different way this time. He chose to pull me in close to Him. I do wonder what would of happened had I not been obedient. I didn’t even know there were “walls” that needed to come down. Would those walls of just stayed up? Would He of had to remove them in a less “fun” way? Would I of eventually felt pressed in by the “walls” and gone running back to Him?
I think about how Joshua and his army must of felt when they went into Jericho. With all the rubble, it must of been a little messy. However, I am sure they had a holy confidence and strength to go into it because they knew that they had gone into it in obedience. Their orders sounded ludicrous. What makes sense in the supernatural doesn’t always make sense in the natural.
You do not always have to know the “why” of when He asks something of you. I think that has been the biggest change in my faith over the last 5 years. I used to always ask “why.” At this point, I have learned that it really doesn’t matter. He knows why. I just have to trust that for whatever reason He is having me do something or not do something is for my own good…And He knows what is good for me…not me.