Last Sunday, I went to the 11:30 service at c|Life’s Forney campus and heard an amazing sermon about not giving up, even though you have yet to see results. The sermon came from the story of the Israelites and their conquest of Jericho.
Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”
― Joshua 6:1–5 NLT
God promised the Israelites victory over the city of Jericho. Victory was as certain as if it had already taken place. When God promises you something, you can go ahead and start thanking him for it, because he has already given it to you, even though you have not experienced it yet.
God not only promised the Israelites victory, but he also told them exactly how this victory would take place. They did not have to try to figure out how to achieve it. They just needed to do what God told them to do. They just needed to walk in obedience, literally. God told them to walk around Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. Then, when they heard the priests give one long blast with the horn, they were all to shout as loudly as they could, and the walls would collapse so they could charge straight into the town and conquer it. When God promises you something and then tells you exactly what you need to do to receive it, all you have to do is walk in obedience and you will receive what he promised you.
When God promises us a victory and tells us to start walking, we should thank him for the victory and happily walk until the victory is realized. There is absolutely no reason for us to complain or get discouraged, because the God of the universe promised us victory and he will surely make good on his promise.
So why do we complain and get discouraged?
Pastor David Griffin pointed it out clearly Sunday when he said that, even though God told the Israelites the number of laps they would need to walk around Jericho before they would receive their victory, God does not always tell us how many laps we will need to walk. God does not always tell us how long we will need to fight an addiction and beg for deliverance before he will free us from its bondage once and for all. God does not always tell us how many years we will need to pray and how many tears we will shed before our loved one finally trusts in Christ and is raised from death to life. God does not always tell us how long we will need to pray for our spouse and love them unconditionally while receiving nothing in return before he will finally restore our marriage. And as a result of not knowing how long until the victory, we will usually get to a point where we stop thanking him for the victory to come and start complaining and getting discouraged.
Joshua knew our tendency to get discouraged and start complaining. He knew our tendency to give up on God, stop walking in obedience, and start trying to do things our own way, and that’s why he told the Israelites the following:
“Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!”
― Joshua 6:10 NLT
Pastor Griffin summarized this command so well with the phrase, “Shut up and keep walking!”
That is possibly some of the best advice I have ever received. It addresses two of my worst tendencies. It addresses my tendency to quit walking in obedience and give up because of discouragement. And it addresses my tendency to open my mouth and start complaining because I do not feel I am any closer to victory than when I started walking.
Notice in the passage that God was very clear that the walls of the town would collapse only after all the walking was done, and not a second before. The Israelites would not see even the slightest sign that victory was theirs before the walking was done. They would have nothing to propel them forward except the promise of God.
Is the promise of God enough for us to shut up and keep walking? Do we trust God enough to keep walking in obedience even if we never receive any signs that victory in near? Will we give up, or will we keep walking in faith and obedience until victory is ours? Every one of us must answer those questions for ourselves.
Toward the beginning of Pastor Griffin’s message, he talked about how his views have changed since he first became a pastor. He said that great starts do not impress him as much as they did when he was younger. Now, it is finishing strong that impresses him. He said having a child doesn’t impress him. He said anybody can have a child. It’s raising a child right that impresses him.
I understood his point. But the part that caught my attention most was when he said, “Anybody can have a child.” The reason that part caught my attention is that my experience says different.
My wife and I have been married for over 17 years, and we started trying to have children a year and a half into our marriage. For 16 years, we have been trying to have children, and still the only sounds of children ever heard in our house were made by the children of others. I have been praying for a child for many years, and I believe that God has directed me to continue praying for one until we receive one. I truly believe he has promised us a child, but it is not a promise I can prove to anyone. I do believe that he has told me to keep walking until he lays that victory in my lap in the form of a child.
Will I get discouraged and stop walking? I certainly could, if I focus on the fact that we are almost 40 and have never seen even the slightest sign that victory is near. Or will I thank God for the victory he has promised and keep walking? I believe this is what I will choose to do. I will shut up and keep walking. If we turn 40 and still don’t have a child, I will shut up and keep walking. If we turn 45 and still don’t have a child, I will shut up and keep walking. If we turn 50 and still don’t have a child, I will shut up and keep walking.
No matter what, I will shut up and keep walking, because God can do anything, no matter how impossible it seems. He is the same God that gave Abraham and Sarah a child when he was 100 and she was 90, so I will trust that he can give us one too.
I will not question God’s promise or his ability to fulfill it. I will simply shut up and keep walking until victory is mine. And when that day comes, you can bet you will hear all about it in my next devotional. But until then, I will shut up and keep walking.
How will you respond to the promises of God?