About two weeks before I left for St. Louis a guest speaker, Christine Caine, came to speak at the Rock Anaheim. It was my last Sunday at the home church that we would be planting from. I wasn’t prepared for the timeliness of the message that day, and how even now two months later, the word spoken is just as relevant. The Lord knew I needed to hear that message that day.
In short she talked about possessing the Promised Land. I think when we plan to make any sort of big change, whether its a child, a spouse, or in my case a new city and school system, we have these idealistic perspectives that once we are there, we have arrived. We think that everything is going to be great because this is the thing we have been praying and believing God for. This is our Promised Land! And then, as Christine put it, we face the Jericho wall. To the Israelites who had wandered for 40 years in the Wilderness after 400 years of slavery, crossing that Jordan River must have been a surreal moment. Not quite the same as seeing the Gateway Arch that day two months ago, but you get the idea. And then…they see a wall, a gigantic fortified Jericho Wall. Christine challenged us by asking, “What are you going to do when you face that Jericho Wall?” You stay in the Word, you stay in prayer, you stay in faith, you keep marching! You never know when that wall is going to come down!
Here I am two months later, and I see a gigantic Jericho wall. A wall marked by generational poverty and racism, a wall of an educational system that failed my students leaving many of them at 2nd and 3rd grade level equivalency (“A hypothesis? Who has ever heard such a strange word”), a wall of aggression where you have to fight to get what you want, and a wall that leaves me completely and utterly spent at the end of each day. I start to understand why so many missionaries and first year teachers don’t make it past that first year. They faced the Jericho Wall and high-tailed it back around.
What about me? I’m going to keep marching. Some days that march is filled with victory after victory (a student running into my room completely broken because her uncle is in jail, giving me the opportunity to minister), a student who had an academic breakthrough after being convinced they weren’t smart enough to excel in my class, an open door to invite friends to our new church plant, and a building getting locked in to launch services for the church (PTL!!!). Other days I’m crawling around the wall with my school breaks marked by tears in the dean’s office or on the bathroom floor (yes folks…it happened), or a student threatening another student causing the complete derailment of my class. But at the end of the day…I just keep marching! I march because a wall doesn’t mean I am not in the Promised Land and the blessings and fruitfulness the Lord promised me and my church aren’t right in front of me and around the next bend.
The truth is the Israelites not just faced the Jericho Wall, but seven years of conquest before they settled into the Land they promised. The false belief that arrival in the Land means the struggle isn’t real is what causes so many to give up on spouses, children, or their mission field. That isn’t going to be my story. That isn’t going to mark the Rock St. Louis. We keep marching…that wall will come down!
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