Lesson 3 -- fourth quarter 1994
September 18, 1994
Talk about unconventional warfare! The inhabitants of Jericho were treated to one of the strangest sights: a whole bunch of people who daily walked around their city once. With nary a peep. I can imagine this unnerved them at first, but eventually they may have concluded that the Israelites had lost touch with reality. The truth of the matter was, though, that the Israelites had finally come in contact with total reality. Optimistic reality. The reality of obedience.
The unnatural experience at Jordan prepared Israel for the abnormal approach at Jericho. But unnatural and abnormal were now relative terms. The Israelites were slowly getting acquainted with God's ways of doing things...and they were perfectly natural and normal by His standards. The Israelites were quite satisfied to let Him do things His way since they knew that then things would get done. God had said He would give them Jericho, and the reality of obedience told them that the deed was as good as done...if they obeyed.
Did their faith slacken with each passing day? I doubt it. They knew the big day was the seventh day. I'm sure their obedience didn't let up during those "wasted" days of going around Jericho accomplishing "nothing." Nothing deserves quotes because they were getting something very important accomplished: God's ways and means in full obedience. By the time round seven of day seven came up, these Israelites were armed and ready for conquest. They had no Plan B or T. Their optimistic realism assured them that devising alternate plans would truly be a wasteful accomplishing of nothing. They were satisfied with faithful obedience.
I don't like going in circles. Especially prayer circles. I want to pray for a need and then let it rest, trusting God to answer in "His own good time and way." However, I may overcome my own preferences and actually pray with fervor for a couple of weeks. Then I've had it. The zeal wears off and "reality" sets in...it's time to move on to more profitable prayer targets. How out-of-touch I get!
The reality God wants me to see reveals that caring faithfulness in prayer makes a difference. Even though that difference is often imperceptible to my physical eyes. This is particularly true when praying for someone's spiritual needs. They may continue in their hardened way, but God and I know that I am faithfully marching prayer circles every day. Their strength in evil may not seem to diminish, but Satan knows that something is bound to happen when I daily march obedient prayer circles. I have no idea of the battles won and lost in the spirit dimension...as a result of my praying, or not praying. But optimistic reality gives me the confidence to tenaciously "waste" time going around in prayer circles accomplishing "nothing." Faithlessness and disobedience, even in their smallest manifestations, will contribute only to defeat. Forward, march!!
As you can see by now, this concept of optimistic reality has really caught my attention. For now. You won't read this for another ten months. Will I have forgotten it by then? Not if I live in it every day. Not if I maintain my daily contact with He who is the only benchmark of reality. If I am thoroughly convinced that God is always at work, the reality of faith and obedience will surely overcome the inertia of any other limited "reality."