I have to admit something to you. Something secret that I haven’t told anyone. I recently made a decision where an obedient YES turned into a quiet worry about this very subject. Rejection.
You see, during the month of November (2016), I had been posting daily gratitude posts on my Facebook page. I actually really enjoyed writing these posts. I enjoyed myself. I felt like these posts were worthwhile, valuable to its readers, and they really were a joy to write. This was a marked difference from the struggles that I was facing on my very own blog. You see, I had been going through the dryest of dry spells. My writing was boring, passionless, and entirely worthless. There was no perceived value to my blog at all! I hated writing on it. I hated throwing things together for the sake of throwing things together. I. Hated. My. Blog. Passionately!
By the time December rolled around, I was no longer doing my daily gratitude posts. I was facing my boring, passionless, dreary, wretched blog that I absolutely hated. One night, I was thinking about this blog, considering a new direction, when God laid on my heart to start a Christian blog. Immediately my brain and my heart were both like "YES!!!!!"
The next day I got to work on this new direction. I started writing my "My Prayer for the New Year" series. It didn't take long for a secret and quiet fear to creep in. What would my friends and family think of this new direction? Not all of them believe the same as me. What if I'm judged for what I've written. What if I write the wrong thing? What if I mess up? What if this turns into the worst decision I could have ever made?
Have you ever felt that quiet fear of rejection? It has a way of making one feel a bit hesitant in obedience. It might even inspire some procrastination.
Now, what God was inviting me into is actually pretty exciting. I’m a few weeks into this incredible journey with this passionate, exciting, and encouraging blog. I’m learning more and more about God and about myself.
What God invited me into was exactly what I needed. He gave me a direction that seems somewhat natural, even while it's a bit scary (especially at first). Sometimes, God invites us into a journey that is almost natural. Other times, He invites us into something that can sound a bit absurd.
Let’s consider seven observations from Joshua and the Israelites and one of the absurd invites that they got from God.
First observation: In Joshua chapters 6, we learn about the Fall of Jericho. We come right to the part of the story where Moses had just passed away and God has chosen Joshua as Moses’ successor. God promises Joshua that, “as I was with Moses, I’ll be with you.” (Joshua 1:5). Now if we’ve read the stories about Moses, they’re pretty incredible! God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery and out of Egypt. You’d read about how God parted the Red Sea to allow his people to escape to freedom. You’d read about how God provided water for all of His people from a rock. You’d read about how He fed them manna from heaven. This same God who was with Moses is the same God who promised to be with Joshua!
Observation Two: Joshua had a few tests as Israel’s new leader, but Jericho was the first battle under Joshua’s command. Joshua wasn’t unprepared for this task. In fact, he was even trained in it. Jericho wasn’t Joshua’s first experience with battle. BUT… there’s a big difference between serving the leader and being the leader. As Israel's new leader, Joshua was constantly challenged in his obedience to God and His Word.
Observation Three: God’s plan would sound absurd to anyone who heard it. Yet, Joshua immediately got started as soon as God finished sharing His plan for this battle. He didn’t waste any time. He trusted God, even though God’s plan sounded absurd. Who ever heard of just marching around a city in order to overcome it? Who ever heard of walls crashing down a fortified city just because an army walked around it and shouted? Yet this was the plan.
Observation Four: In light of this plan, you have to admire the faith and courage of not only Joshua but also the Israelite army to follow God’s seemingly absurd plan. I can’t imagine that Joshua spoke with Israel’s leaders without a hint of “Are you sure, God?” I can’t imagine that Joshua went to the leaders without a fear of rejection. What if the leaders had said, “Well, I am really questioning whether or not you heard God right. I’m refusing to go along with this plan of yours.” Regardless of how they felt (because that’s not mentioned in Joshua 6), they went along willingly. Thank God for those moments when he just speaks to someone else’s heart and confirms His Word for us!
Observation Five: In many accounts of this story as it has been retold (movies, VeggieTales, etc), the people of Jericho make fun of the army of Israel. No matter what translation I read of this, I couldn’t find it mentioned anywhere. Please, if I have missed this, feel free to comment with the Scripture Reference! Whether or not it’s mentioned, I can’t imagine that Jericho watched (and heard) the army marching around their city for a week and not say something. Were they afraid? Jericho was obviously afraid of the Israelites BEFORE they started marching (6:1), but did the marching around for days inspire fear or pride?
Observation Six: This whole story doesn’t blatantly talk about rejection, but just like my story above, the feeling of rejection can sometimes be a quiet fear. There’s a lot of moments in this story where Joshua, the leaders of Israel, and the army of Israel could have really questioned and doubted God’s plan. Can you imagine sharing the plan with more than one person, or as a small group, sharing the plan with a larger group? What if they rejected the idea? What if there wasn’t enough faith for people to get on board? What if we heard wrong? What if they don’t believe us? In praying about this post, I just couldn’t escape this story. There’s a lesson here for all of us!
Observation Seven: Obedience. An absurd-sounding plan didn’t hinder Joshua’s obedience. It didn’t hinder the leaders’ obedience. It didn’t hinder Israel’s obedience. They believed in faith that God would do exactly as he said (Hebrews 11:30)! They marched around as God directed. They shouted as God directed. They did all of this with complete trust in who God is and what He said. No matter how crazy God’s plan is or what He calls us to, He won’t back out of His end of the deal. He’s trustworthy! As he told Joshua (in 1:5), as he was with Moses, so he was with Joshua. As he was with Joshua, so God is with us. (Matthew 28:20)
What does the Bible say about rejection?
- If the world rejects you, the world rejects Him. Luke 10:16
- A servant is not greater than his master. John 15:18-25
One thing to take note of is Paul's words on the value of knowing Jesus. To Paul, rejection was worth it. He would tell you that knowing Jesus is worth the rejection, it's worth the persecution, it's worth the scary moments, and that it's worth death. In fact, he does tell you all of these things, just by the way that he passionately lived his life.
Doing what God had inspired me to, turned into such a great blessing. It continues to be a blessing with each passing day! I'm so thankful that God has used me and my blog to reach the places my feet will never walk. I'm thankful that He provided the direction. Without Him, I'm not sure that I would have continued blogging, my blog would definitely not be as exciting to write! As I published my very first post, completely worried about the rejection I might face, I just thought of the final words of the Great Commission. Let them be an encouragement to you today.
"I am with you always, to the end of the age,"