And the Walls Came A-Tumbling Down
For the past few weeks, sitting down to blog has felt like staring at a solid wall and trying to see through it. And no, I'm not referring to writer's block, though I've certainly experienced enough of that. The wall I have in mind is worse—taller, thicker, uglier, and stationed squarely between me and God.
We often think of Satan as a master destroyer, but in many ways, he's a master craftsman as well. He carves beautiful idols for us to worship, forges weapons to use against us and for us to use against each other, and sometimes—when we look away just a moment too long—he finds time to build walls between us and God. Thick, imposing walls, made of apathy and distraction and detachment and fatigue, designed to make us feel as if God is far away. As if we're out of sync with Him. As if He is hiding on the other side of some great partition and His inspiration and peace and instruction don't seem to be making it through.
Some people use the word "funk," but I think it lets us off the hook a tad too much, don't you? Maybe the word "slump" is more fitting, if by "slump" we mean our own spiritual slacking-off, some of the time. Either way, the more I struggled to break through—the more I grappled with the silence I heard when I tried to listen for God's voice of inspiration—the more I understood this to be a very spiritual obstacle.
I could dedicate an entire post to diagnosing what went wrong, but you've heard all that before. You don't need to be reminded that God deserves the best of our time and the highest seat on our priority lists, and hey, maybe you've been doing everything right. Maybe you were feeling incredibly connected with the Lord and this sudden wall signifies something else in your life—a trial, a lesson, a growth opportunity. Life is full of struggles and not all of them are a direct result of something we have or haven't done. So if you're reading this, feeling distant from God, struggling to hear His voice through a wall, a gap, a fog that sprang up while you weren't looking—don't despair. If you feel like you've slipped up, repent and dust yourself off. This post isn't about what we've done to get here: it's about what we're supposed to do next.
When Joshua led the Israelites against the city of Jericho, they faced walls. Like us, they knew that God was the answer to breaking through the barrier and moving forward on the other side. What they did not do was sit back on their camels to watch God demolish the obstacle, clean up the mess, and wave them through while they drank goat's milk and ate peanut-butter-manna sandwiches. Did God do the heavy lifting? Absolutely. Was God the one who brought the walls a-tumbling down? Of course. But He had expectations for the Israelites. If they wanted to get through, they were going to have to show some initiative.
Most of us know the story of Joshua 6. At God's command, the Israelites marched around the city walls once daily, seven times on the seventh day, after which they blew their ram's horns and shouted like crazy and watched an entire wall tumble in front of them. I can't imagine it was enjoyable—marching around a hostile city under the arrows and glares of the enemy, probably in the scorching heat, definitely confused and uncertain. But they did it. They pushed through the apathy, the confusion, the exhaustion. They pushed through whatever "slump" they might have been in on any of days one through seven. They didn't let some resistance become an excuse to stop moving forward.
And neither should we.
They had somewhere to be. They were going to get there. And if that meant pushing themselves a little, doing some uncomfortable things, obeying God even when they didn't feel like it . . . well, that's what they were going to do. And the walls came a-tumbling down.
God can smash through any barrier, but He won't if we're not interested in getting over it. He wants us to do some pushing back of our own—against the discouragement, against the fatigue, against the apathy and doubt and spiritual struggles. He will do the heavy lifting, but He still likes to see us break a sweat trying to reach Him.