By Chuck Griffin
Today is election day, and as I look at the recommended Nov. 3 Scripture readings, the irony of finding a particular story from the Book of Joshua does not escape me.
In the story there is a wall, and the wall collapses. The story has inspired many people through the years, including Black slaves who once sang, “Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumblin’ down.” It is a story of change, chaotic change, but change designed to benefit the people of God.
First and foremost, let’s be praying that any change to come from today’s voting process is according to God’s will, and to the benefit of Christ’s kingdom on earth. There also is a lesson in this story about timing, a lesson any culture can benefit from in any era.
Joshua asked the Israelites to do a difficult thing—trust God’s timing. It must have been strange, marching around a city’s high wall day after day in silence. I wonder, once back in camp in the evening, did anyone mutter, “When are we going to actually do something effective?”
Timing is difficult to master. If you’ve ever played sports or music, you know how critical timing is. My father has been a drag racer for decades; races are often won or lost by thousandths of a second. In karate, there’s an ancient saying: “The time to strike is when opportunity presents itself.” You can be too quick or too slow.
People sometimes like to act as if God isn’t fully awake. The solution we’ve deemed right must be forced, it seems: Here, Abram, go impregnate Hagar. Other times, we lose focus, and we’re too late to be effective. (I plan to preach this “too late” text Sunday.)
Jesus’ earthly ministry relied on timing. He repeatedly warned the disciples and others not to reveal too much about him, not just yet. It was as if Jesus knew exactly which beams and nails had to be available for his crucifixion if heaven and earth were to be joined through him.
If we’re going to master timing as Christians, we need to be sure we’re hearing clearly from God. Let’s neither rush nor miss those moments when our Lord says, “Blow those trumpets! Shout!” Again, prayer and study of Scripture are the best ways to unstop our ears.
Once we know God has issued a call to action, we can be confident our efforts to change things for the better will be effective, even if it turns out we’re just one move in the Lord’s long game.
Today seems like a good day for John Wesley’s covenant prayer. Here’s a modern version:
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.