So many Christians don’t actually own their own faith story. They ride the coattails of their parent’s faith, or they ride along with a community of peers, but often their faith is not their own. Fighting various battles, being pushed, challenged, and occasionally experiencing failure are powerful teachers and can cement one’s beliefs. The path to confidence in our faith is rarely without turmoil. That’s by design. A life of faith, led by the Spirit, is diametrically opposed to a life lived by sight, led by our flesh (2 Cor. 5:7). So, when I read Joshua, I’m intrigued at his young soldiers and how they came to own their faith.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of the rank-and-file soldiers in Joshua’s army?
If you were, it would mean that you were young (under 20 years old), since every male of fighting age (over 20) died in the 38 years of wilderness wandering since Israel failed to believe God at Kadesh-barnea (Deut. 2:14). It would also mean you grew up wandering in the wilderness, hearing stories of what God did in Egypt, but since you were young when that happened, they weren’t necessarily your stories. But now with the events recorded in Joshua, you’ve personally experienced God’s power and the stories are becoming your own. You experienced and remember the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River at flood stage. You became quite vulnerable when Joshua circumcised all the warriors (while trapped between the flooded Jordan and the impregnable walls of Jericho). And, of course, you heard and saw the walls of Jericho fall down, just as God said they would. Who could forget that?
These stories are now your stories and they all point to the necessity of trusting God and obeying Him. God doesn’t lead his nation like a typical king would lead a nation. God doesn’t fight like a typical army would fight. Why? Because his goals are not the same as those of a typical king or army. His goals? To receive glory and to recreate a way for mankind to walk in relationship with Him, follow Him, learn from Him and enjoy His presence (Ps. 16:11).
Isaiah says it this way:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God has a different agenda that we often have in our efficient busy and productive oriented society. He wants us to know and experience Him. But that means that He’ll interrupt our routine, our agenda, our schedule. He won’t ask permission to get a slot in our outlook calendar. And we might stand out in a crowd. We might look different. It’s OK to be different if the difference comes from following Jesus.
Are you OK with that? It’s the price of owning your faith story.