This post originally appeared Sept. 1, 2013 on Aleah’s blog, Depth of the Riches. You can find it here.
After nearly eight years out, last week I rejoined the workforce. It’s not much, only about ten hours a week as a sales associate in an outlet shoe store. It is the same shoe store I worked in when I was in eleventh grade. I have walked the gray industrial carpeted floors past the very same spot where I remember realizing I was in love with the guy who would one day be my husband. (And excitedly decided to tell him, only for him to beat me to it and tell me he had a new girlfriend). I’m about a solid decade older than my coworkers, one of whom is actually our babysitter.
I had been praying for more money. Now, that might sound shallow, but I’ve got three kids in private school on a single income. I am nothing if not completely honest with God when I pray; He knows what I need, so why beat around the bush? However, I planned on these prayers leading to either something happening with Mike at work or to some awesome writing opportunity where I could actually make money off something I’m already doing.
Let’s face it, time is not a commodity I have in great supply. I’m currently a junior high youth leader, women’s Bible study leader, church nursery director, and I dabble in the blogosphere. And that’s just what I do in my “free” time. Sometimes though, perfect circumstances are in motion that are just so obviously an answer to prayer that, whether it was the answer I wanted or not, I knew the opportunity to work for an old friend (who was willing to be very flexible with scheduling) was the answer I got.
In my daily Bible reading I’m going through an Old Testament Overview reading plan. Around the time of all this prayer and part-part time employment talk I was reading in Joshua. (Note: the following is not a coincidence. You want to have God speak to you? Put in the effort by being consistently in the Word and believe you have been purposed to read what you are when you are.)
Joshua 6 tells the story of the fall of Jericho (and the walls came a-tumbling down–yeah that one). The Israelites have just crossed into the land God promised to give them after forty years of wandering in the desert. They are now faced with the somewhat daunting task of claiming the land. Jericho looms before them, an advanced fortress with four foot thick walls. No one was just going to sneak up on Jericho. It would have to be taken by extreme force.
So God tells them to walk in circles around the place. Not in military formation, but strung out with priests blowing ram’s horns and the ark of the covenant being carried in the mix. Oh, and they’re not even allowed to talk. They’re to do this once a day for six days, then on the seventh day they’re to walk around the city seven times, blast the trumpets, and everyone shouts. Then the walls fall down and the Israelites will march in and conquer the city.
Sounds pretty cut-and-dried. And, if we’re being honest, kind of ridiculous and a bit tedious.
This story caught me off guard because, though I was already familiar with it, in reading it I was struck with what a perfect metaphor it is for where I feel I’m at in life. I’m doing weird, disjointed things that wouldn’t seem to add up were it not for the common factor that I’m honestly seeking the Lord in all of it as best I know how. I’m writing late into the night, reading books off of seminary lists, selling comfortable shoes for minimum wage, comforting a feverish teething toddler, prepping for Bible study, meal planning, and keeping tabs on my personal heroes of faith via Twitter.
Much like the Israelites must have looked fools to their enemies on the other side of the wall, I am currently marching in my own vulnerability parade. I’m willingly putting myself in situations I don’t feel totally prepared for, anticipating God will show up big, but risking looking ridiculous. (Hence my new video attempts).
Unlike times of more lost “what am I supposed to do” wanderings in the desert of the past, I do believe there is some sort of divine purpose that is set in motion. I just can’t see how it’s all going to work out. I’m just circling around and around and around. Day in and day out living how I hope Jesus would live my life if He were me.
Some words I read in John Calvin’s commentary keep playing in my head: “Though the circulatory movement round the walls might have excited derision, it was afterwards known, by its prosperous result, that God commands nothing in vain.” It is a message the Lord has reminded me of again and again and again. If nothing I’m doing is in vain, then by default it has a purpose. I can view the journey as a burden, or I can trust there are things being shaken that I cannot fathom and make the most of this purposeful, circuitous wandering.
Even Jesus didn’t just march straight to the pinnacle of His ministry at the cross. He first spent time teaching around the countryside and in the cities of the life now being made available, and healing and casting out demons. After a few years of this transient life He was led to die slowly on the horrible, glorious cross where He shouted in victory, “It is finished!” And the earth shook and the very walls of death came tumbling down.
If I give up now I’ll never get to see what’s on the other side of this wall. And who knows how many laps I have left?
Thinking of Jericho has been helping me keep perspective on the days it feels like the fatigue and tedium of daily life is going to overtake me. Anyone else experiencing a Jericho season?