I have been thinking a lot about the story in Joshua 9 lately.
Here is a rough version of it:
Joshua and the Israelites have been commanded (by God) to pretty much wipe out all of the people groups in the surrounding area. So far they are doing really well with their mission. Then the Gibeonites hear what the Israelites are doing and they get scared because they are in really close proximity and assume (correctly) that they are on the list.
What the Gibeonites did is actually really smart. They put on old clothes/shoes, got together some dried out wineskins and bread, and headed right over into the Israelite camp. They looked like they had come from a long way off. When they got to the Israelites they told them they had come from a distant land because they had heard of the Lord’s fame and wanted to make a treaty with them.
The Israelites questioned them at first, but once the Gibeonites pointed out their clothes, shoes, dried wine skins, and moldy bread, they seemed to be satisfied. The verse says:
14 The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
All of the evidence seemed to line up. It seemed pretty obvious. But they did not inquire of the Lord. All throughout the Old Testament, including Joshua’s story, we read prayers asking specific questions to God (should we attack such and such?) and God giving specific answers in return (Yes you should. You will defeat them.). So what happened here? They relied on their own instincts and went with the obvious answer instead of asking God who made the commandment.
As a result, the Israelites were not able to completely fulfill God’s command to them. Things seemed to work out fine for them in the end, but it makes me wonder what it could have been like if they had been completely obedient. What would have happened if they had taken a moment to ask God what should be done in the situation?
Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
A few months ago I saw the movie Remember Me in the theater. Honestly, I went to see it because Robert Pattinson is in it and it looked like a pretty good movie from the preview. What I wasn’t prepared for was the way it completely disrupted me. I was ready for a good story, but this one cut down deeper and impacted me so unexpectedly. And it was not a bad thing. I thought about that movie for weeks and went to see it again to try and put those disrupted pieces in me back together again. What was it about that story that got to me so much? I honestly don’t know, but I am glad it did. It made me think. It made me re-evaluate. I love that God made me so sensitive to stories.
I love it when God does that in my life. I don’t always love it at the time, but the pay off is always worth it. I get going in these patterns. Patterns of my normal. Patterns of my comfortable. Patterns of safety. And to be honest, I need disruptions. The emotion, confusion, pain, joy, and honesty of a holy disruption is necessary for our growth and dependence on God.
I feel really disrupted right now. In this year alone (2010) I have battled through a really hard decision and confrontation, quit a job, found a new job, found out my new job is ending, struggled through friendships, have dealt with intense loneliness, and have no idea what I want to do next. It’s been really difficult. I am disrupted. But I’m glad for it. I know that God is going to use this to do something major in my heart. I can already see it happening. God is giving me a new story to tell.
Let us the, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degredations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our decendents to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknoledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all it’s dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter- with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens- a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
~Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural Address