March’s guest blog post is by an online friend, Beth Walker. I met Beth through an online writing group for Christian women working on a variety of genres. Our friendship has expanded past the writing group to online friendship via social media. I appreciate her mentorship, her constant faith, her desire to see the Church return to its roots, and her consistent work on racial justice. Beth is a beautiful woman, inside and out, and I cannot imagine a better voice for this season of Lent. In this month’s post she shares devotional thoughts on tearing down walls, something that we really need to start doing more effectively as a country if we are to find true healing.
After 400 years in captivity, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness. The intention was for God to reintroduce himself to his chosen people and re-establish covenant with them before ushering them into the Promised Land. Understandably, the Israelites weren’t immediately trusting of the God who seemed to silently allow them to live as Egyptian slaves for four centuries.
As the months continued, God provides for his people’s daily needs. He kept them fed, clothed, healthy, safe from the elements, and established boundaries for them.
Among the 613 laws in the Book of Leviticus for purification from sin are opportunities to repent from unintentional sins. God anticipated his people would require opportunities to renew their relationship with him even when they believed they were without flaw.
Leviticus 4:22-23 says, “‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, when he realizes his guiltand the sin he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect.” (NIV)
Leviticus 5:5-6 “when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.” (NIV)
With so many laws to follow and incredibly elaborate sacrifice ceremonies, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a season of rebellion settled among the Israelite camp. God’s chosen people had been living in the wilderness for over a year without the shackles of slavery commanding their days. They had more uncertainty in their future than they knew how to handle.
“Control is typically a reaction to the fear of losing control. People who struggle with the need to be in Control often fear being at the mercy of others, and this fear may stem from traumatic events that left them feeling helpless and vulnerable.”
As the days wore on, the Israelites rebelled against the lack of control in their lives. They asked Moses to send them back to captivity. This ridiculous request is easy to judge from a distance, but we must pause to ask ourselves how we are like the Israelites today. How many times do we settle for the second best when God calls us to take a courageous step toward the unknown? Have you ever allowed fear to prevent you from embracing a new opportunity?
Rather than allow the Israelites to settle for life in captivity, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.'” (Numbers 13:1-2)
God sent the leaders of each tribe into Canaan to show them that he followed through on his promise to the Israelites and brought them to the land set aside for them. God was once again teaching the Israelites he was their provider. It was up to them as to whether they would put their trust in his character.
Numbers 13:25-27 says: “At the end of forty days, they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!'”
Yet, of the 12 spies who went on this mission, only Joshua and Caleb trusted God enough to say that they could take the Promised Land. The other ten insisted the Israelites wouldn’t be able to overtake the people inhabiting the land.
Of course, we know that after forty years of wandering in the wilderness under Joshua’s command, the Israelites finally enter the Promised Land. However, the battle to overtake the land is so much more difficult because they chose the fearful route the first time.
When the time finally came forty years later for the descendants of the Israelites to begin taking the Promised Land for their families to settle, Joshua led the people around the walls of Jericho for seven days. They marched and blew trumpets, and the walls of Jericho crumbled before their eyes without the need to draw a weapon.
We have the same choice as the Israelites. We can follow God even when the path before us isn’t clear or settle for the known life in the wilderness. The spies who went to Canaan focused on the size and strength of the people. They assumed they would need to fight to take command of the Promised Land. But God told them to report on the food, and all the land could provide.
Rather than writing the story when the path ahead is blurry, let’s grab the hand of one who is stronger and wiser and partner with our creator to embrace the fullness of all he promises. Let’s learn from the Israelites desire to let fear lead their decisions and choose a different way. Let’s expect walls to crumble at our command with God’s help and for his glory.
Are you uncertain where to start? Remember that God established space for repentance from unknown sins. Sometimes the first walls we need to tear down are those around our heart. Pray for God to remove the distance between you and reveal any walls that need to be torn down. God will answer your prayer.
About the Author
Beth Walker has partnered with her husband for twenty years, in leadership and ministry both on and off the football field. Beth is passionate about encouraging women to pursue their individual callings from God. She is a contributor to Friday Night Wives and The Glorious Table. On her own blog, Lessons from the Sidelines, Beth offers practical advice for other coaches’ wives as well as a behind-the-scenes look at her family’s life as they serve their football players and their community. Her book Lessons from the Sidelines released in August 2020 with Cross Training Publishing.