Last fall I shared some thoughts from a new book by our friend, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. This weekend we had the privilege of having him speak at our church.
In the book, one story Mark uses is that of the Israelites who have been wandering in the desert for 40 years and come to Jericho at the edge of the Promised Land. Imposing. Six-foot wide lower wall. 50 foot tall upper wall. Impenetrable. Overwhelming. Like many of the problems and dreams we face today.
God tells them to march around the city once a day for 6 days and then on the 7th day, to circle the city 7 times. He promised after they circled the wall 13 times the wall would fall. On the 7th day God delivered on a 400-year-old promise. Mark writes,
“Jericho is spelled many different ways… If your child is far from God it’s spelled salvation. If your marriage is falling apart, it’s spelled reconciliation. If you have a vision beyond your resources, it’s spelled provision. But whatever it is, you have to spell it out.”
For my friend Heather, her Jericho was spelled healing. All her life she has struggled with a hereditary condition that affects her digestion. It became more and more complicated, resulting in the necessity for 8 operations and an ileostomy (not something exciting for a beautiful twenty-something woman)
The bottom line was that she landed back in the hospital for both Christmas and her birthday last year with more complications after her 7th surgery.
Confused, grieving, trying to cling to God, the 7th floor of the U of M Medical Center became the site of her Jericho. Barely able to hobble, dragging her IV pole she made it her goal to walk around the unit one time each day, and finally, 7 times.
Heather focused on Hebrews 11:1, trusting that God was doing in her body what she didn’t see or feel, and that her faith in Him would carry her if the healing wasn’t physical.
When she walked out of the hospital on March 27th 2011 it was for the last time. Physically healed.
This was not magic. This was not a formula. And I don’t know why Heather was healed and others are not. We’re in a relationship with the God of the universe and His ways are not our ways, His timing is often not our timing.
Heather would probably tell you that what she learned over the years of waiting, walking and clinging, was as important as her healing. She is a different woman. A more peace-filled, confident woman because of her walk in circles.
But I am convicted by this, “When you live by faith it often feels like you are risking your reputation. You’re not. Your risking God’s reputation . It’s not your faith that’s on the line. It’s His faithfulness…The battle doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to God and because the battle doesn’t belong to you, neither does the glory.”
We need to look to God’s promises. Ask, and then listen for Him to whisper the dreams and goals He wants us to trust Him for. We need to pray for discernment. And listen. And do our part in making wise and healthy choices.
But here’s where I also get in trouble. Often I think I (we?) ere on the side of not naming our Jericho out of fear and uncertainty. Maybe we can start circling our Jericho with an openness to God’s correction. An ear to heaven and an eye on eternity…
So today, What’s your Jericho? Maybe we can circle together.
If you want to hear Mark’s fantastic message from this weekend on Acts 10, and additional study of the topic with Message Gear go here. (Should be available by Tuesday latest)