By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled by the Israelites for seven days. Hebrews 11:30
Looking foolish appears to be a theme within the narrative of scripture. A great man like Naaman was commanded to dip into the dirty Jordan seven times for healing. Noah was told to build an ark when rain was unheard of. Jehoshaphat was told to abandon his military training to lead a charge with only a choir of singers. And the Israelites were told to walk around Jericho for seven days in anticipation of the city’s walls falling down. To obey God required the laying down of self-interest. Naaman was humiliated by the order. Jehoshaphat probably wondered if he heard such an outlandish command correctly. Noah sustained ridicule for 100+ years as he labored to build a wooden monstrosity. And while the Israelites didn’t have to march around Jericho for a hundred years, seven days is still a long time to look ridiculous.
Did each and every person who marched believe, with every step, God’s prophesied outcome? I doubt it. No more than I believe God every single moment when He leads me to do something scary. I take a deep breath. I obey. I sustain some criticism. Weakened, I go back to the Lord for renewed strength. The process starts all over again. Obedience is solitary and is usually way out of the realm of what is logical and predictable.
No wonder faith is what has to precede radical obedience. Without faith, compliance is impossible. The risk of looking foolish is real and is a faith-killer. I must lay down my reputation and live for an audience of One. Only His plan, and my obedience, matters. I don’t need to know how things fit together to follow God’s lead either. I may not know until glory.
Hebrews 11 chronicles the stories of a few faith giants. They were heroes because they offered themselves to God for a mission that would grate against the mainstream. People didn’t understand. Way before Jesus, it had already been proven that the way is narrow for those who follow God. The gate is wide, however, for conformists and rationalists who follow their own rudder.
The plans of men may impress a crowd of the like-minded and the wayward but plans of God only impress other children of God who walk by faith. Trophies and adulation are given for temporal accomplishments but crowns will be given to those who sustain more than a little mocking from the throngs on the road to destruction. Walk on with Jesus – if you bear the bruises of others’ words. You are in good company. Your former heroes are, right now, worshiping at the feet of Jesus. They are in awe of God’s stunning story-line and how privileged they were to play a small part in the advance of God’s kingdom. Sense the cheering of this great cloud of witnesses.
Yes. Fathers. Mothers. Even brothers and sisters from centuries ago. Let their voices resound in my heart. Amen