Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Returning to the Place of Failure (Joshua 8)

To the ladies of Route 56.

Ugh! Do you ever get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you stumble upon the memory, person, or place of a previous failure? Even if you try to navigate the situation in a godly way, you can still see your failure face-to-face. In those moments anger, bitterness, or hoplessness can get the better of us--it hits where it hurts. And why does it hurt? Maybe because as much as someone else may have failed, we've failed, too. And so we face up to the fact that God often lets us return to the place of our failures. (And sometimes, when we are without fault, God lets us return to a place of pain for healing.)

I've lately been wondering, and honestly confused, how to navigate my mind around this familiar place. It seems like the same place I've been before. I seem to have the same shortcomings. But I know God has allowed me here. And the result doesn't have to be the same. He has changed me and taught me, so I'm not locked into my past failures. Through grace I get another chance. What seems like the "same old" is really a new opportunity for faith and the extension of the gospel into daily life.

In Joshua 8, that's what God did to the Israelites. The sin of Achan caused the whole Israelite army to flee like squealing girls the first time they faced Ai in battle. Then, fresh after that nasty (and humiliating) beating, God commanded them to return courageously for another try.

Do you notice that God's not questioning the outcome (v.1)? He's confident of what He's chosen to happen to this city. God knows where our hearts need to be, and He leads us there. As we return with Him to the place of our failure, He's not rubbing our face in the mud. We can have courage because He's teaching our hearts to change.

Maybe what looks despairing or frustratingly familiar, or what brings back all the old emotions we once felt, isn't really the same place. God may be helping you navigate through it differently this time--stronger, more sure of the truth, practicing righteousness, etc.

Only you can choose to make the same failure twice. Why not courageously embrace or learn what God would call you to this time? Returning to a place of failure is an opportunity for deeper dependence on the grace you have freely been given through Christ. Let's act on it!

(c) 2010 by Kendra Hinkle.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Really BIG Little Moments - Joshua 5

To the ladies of Route 56.

Sometimes a little moment is so BIG that you enter into it carefully. Respectfully. Almost fearfully. You approach. Take a breath. Walk away--but not completely. Pause. If you're in, you're all in. Time to reapproach....and dive in. Let the moment swallow you whole. You know the cost, but the value of what's ahead is even greater. This is a really BIG little moment.

I can't help but wonder if the Israelites in Joshua 5 understood the bigness of their little moment after crossing the Jordan River. This is a new generation! Why not storm ahead into the Promised Land and take what God has given?!

But God didn't choose to display his magnitude in this moment by physical might or zeal. Instead, he humbled Israel to a place of remembrance and dependence. An unclean, foreign prostitute (Rahab) enabled them to spy out the land safely. The Ark of the Covenant, held by priests - not valiant soldiers, led them across the flooded Jordan River into their new homeland. Once across, the mighty men were weakened by circumcision and healing.

They needed to be weakened. The generation before them, unbelieving in God's ability to accomplish what He promised Abraham (Gen. 12, 15), failed to circumcise their children. This new generation taking hold of the Promised Land did not have the sign of the covenant God required. Their hearts had been prepared by growing up as wanderers in the desert, but they needed to be circumcised according to God's command. A new generation needs to look back in order to remember the how and where ahead of them.

These few chapters hinge Israelite history: the expectation of the past is connected to the realization of God's promise. To grasp the overwhelming success of God's plan, Israel must connect their hands and their hearts together. Faith and action are to be wed. That's what's happening in this moment. And God confirms His pleasure with their action (circumcision) by revealing that His angelic army are present and ready to fight alongside them. The angel raises His sword, a hand and heart in unison.

So, what about you? Can you see what God may be calling your generation to do, connecting your hearts and hands together?

Our really BIG little moment is now. What are you going to do with it?

(c) 2010 by Kendra Hinkle.