It wasn’t a new story.
As a child, I would visualize and act out these kinds of stories in the fields behind my house. My imagination could easily place me in a battle between enemy soldiers. Some days, my creativity insisted I trade in my army khakis for a cowboy hat and chaps.
And then there were those interesting Bible stories!
They invited me into the script as if I was the main actor selected to portray the victorious triumphs of leaders like Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and others.
Perhaps me being a preacher’s kid gave me a broader repertoire to access when I wanted to create a new scene to fill my day with play, even though I would have to explain the story to my friends.
With no electronic games, computers, or other devices to keep me occupied, I was forced to use my own ingenuity to find ways to spend an afternoon playing with my friends.
Recently, I was re-reading the book of Joshua. As a child, he was one of my favorites. He conquered 31 kings — all while figuring out how to follow Israel’s greatest leader, Moses!
I was in chapter 9, where the Gibeonites masquerade themselves as people from a foreign land, to trick the Israelites. These words jumped off the page:
“So the leaders partook of their [the Gibeonites] provisions and did not ask direction from the Lord” - Joshua 9:14 (NRSV).
As I reflected on those words, I sensed God whispering to me: “How often are you quick to respond, without consulting me?”
This story — and God’s question to me — have caused me to think: One quick decision by Israel’s leaders without consulting God was costly!
Israel’s leaders made two mistakes:
First, they made a rash decision based upon appearance that had not been verified. They assumed that the worn out sandals, clothes, patched wineskins, and moldy bread was legitimate verification.
Second, they failed to ask God for direction before making their decision.
This story is a timely reminder for each of us; leaders and learners, alike. Here are three observations:
Appearances are often misleading. Not everything presented to us should be taken at face value. What’s shown to us is not always accurate. To believe everything we hear reported on the news or via social media — despite its packaged appearance, may encourage action on our part that we may regret.
Inquiring of God is essential. Do we honestly believe God desires to be a part of our lives — in every area? If the answer to that is yes, then do we see God as interested in even the small matters of our lives? James has some wise counsel for us: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that” - James 4:13–15 (NRSV).
Taking action before consulting the Lord, is unwise. In a “hurry up” world, waiting is not comfortable. However, quick responses can be risky. It’s one thing to get it wrong when playing an imaginary game. In the real world it can be costly.
“How often are you quick to respond, without consulting me?” The question stays with me. How about you?