Our family has arrived in Texas for Campus Outreach’s annual New Year’s Conference. We have purchased enough travel boxes of sugared cereal to feed a small nation. We have coffee enough to fuel us through five sleep-anemic days. I have attempted to make the hotel room feel as nested as a Joanna Gaines’ home.
Despite the fact that these conferences have always been part of the fabric of our holidays, every year I still feel the same amount of inadequacy.
Sure, we have great speakers and loads of seminars. We have good signage and a swanky hotel. But what we are asking the Lord to do seems as utterly ridiculous and unthinkable as what God told Joshua He would do at Jericho all those millennia ago.
The four hundred college students who are trickling in today from all over the United States are trapped in fortresses that have been built since the day they were born. Fortresses of self buttressed by generational sin and broken homes and laced with the lies of the world.
Enter our rag tag group of young staff leaders of whom my husband and I are among the most senior (which is scary on two levels: 1) we are not that old and 2) we know how broken and inadequate we ourselves are). Somehow, God intends to topple fortresses that have been strengthened by habit and culture.
While praying for the conference, the Lord reminded me of Jericho.
Having recently lost their trusted and time-worn leader, a group of wandering Hebrews emerge from 40 years of wandering in one of the harshest desert landscapes in the world. With a newly minted leader, Joshua, at the helm, they have finally entered the promised land.
They approach Jericho, one of the foremost urban cities of their day. There could not be a stronger foil than the one between the settled citizens of Jericho and the wandering Hebrews.
Joshua snuck away from the sleeping caravan one night, walking around the outskirts of the wall. Perhaps he was processing the complex sea of emotions that were stirring within him: insecurity, grief over the loss of his mentor, ambition and inadequacy, among others. I wonder if he looked up at the towering walls and wondered what in the world God was planning to do.
You know the story. The commander of the Lord’s army shows up (likely a Christophany, a showing up of Christ in the Old Testament). In a moment that mimics that of his leader Moses, Joshua is asked to take off his shoes, for the land on which he is standing is holy. Then Joshua and the commander of the Lord’s army have a chat about strategy.
I bet Joshua expected something big, something huge and daring. We would likely expect the same if we were invited into the war room with Roosevelt and Churchill during WWII. Yet, the plan they drew up likely fell flat to his expectations and seemed laughable. March for six days in silence, blow some horns and carry the ark of the covenant. On the seventh day, march seven times. When the trumpets blow, shout and make a ruckus.
Yet, Joshua and the people obeyed. They trusted not in the unseemly strategy, but rather in the Strategist, the Lord, Yahweh, who would proven Himself faithful and to be feared and obeyed. And against all odds, victory was theirs. They had not even touched the wall, yet the fortress fell.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5.
Please pray for our staff team and student leaders. Pray that we would trust the Strategist who has commanded us to prayerfully proclaim the truths of His Word. Pray that fortresses made with bricks of worldly thinking and culture would fall by the strength of the Savior. Pray that God would raise up a generation of men and women who are deeply changed by the gospel, committed to the Word of God and the mission of God.
We are off to grab our horns and march around some Jerichos. To God be the glory!