It was a hesitant comment. She felt inspired but didn’t fully understand how it all fit. She felt that loving her family when they were choosing things that wouldn’t be good for them was like walking around Jericho: it could lead to miracles, even though it was a simple thing.
My mind exploded with connections from this story about how to love in hard situations. Rereading the first chapters of Joshua with this application in mind has lead to interesting insights on what ministering to your own child can be like.
1. Make Friends
Joshua sends spies into Jericho; when the king nearly discovers them, they are saved by Rahab, the harlot. She was quick-thinking and full of faith. Even living in Jericho, a land of idol worship, she recognized the God of Israel as the God of heaven and earth. She was willing to lie, even to the king, to save them. She was devoted and loving to her family and eventually joined the Israelites with them. I wonder how hard it was for the children of Israel to accept Rahab.
Observe the friends of your loved one. Go beyond what they look like and even bad choices they might be making. Go deeper. Who is actually loving? Who is loyal? Who has a kind heart? Perhaps they aren’t who you would have chosen, but they can be strong allies in saving and connecting with your child. Learn about them. Make friends with them. Find out what your child likes about them. Be grateful for loving friends.
2. Expect and Remember Miracles
Joshua and the children of Israel crossed the river Jordan on dry ground. They then carried 12 stones to form an altar to remember the miracle. It didn’t gain them Jericho, but it got them much closer, far easier than any other possible way.
Actively look for tender mercies and major miracles in your life. Celebrate evidences of God’s power and love. While on the other side of the Jordan river, very close to Jericho, God wanted the people to pause and celebrate Passover. Remember miracles from long ago. Celebrate them. Feel the joy of knowing that God has been loving and full of grace in the past. Let that knowledge fuel your faith and hope. His love, grace, and power will always be there.
3. Sanctify Yourself
The children of Israel are asked repeatedly to sanctify themselves. They are told to be holy. They are asked to follow Joshua, listen to the scriptures, and increase their faith. They are asked to circumcise all the men (even as they are camped right by Jericho).
Find ways to sacrifice to show an increased dedication to God. Fasting, attending the temple, increased prayer, more scripture reading, changing your media and music… Choose to seek God more.
4. Your Spiritual Surroundings May Appear to Change for the Worse
Shortly before crossing the Jordan miraculously, Joshua is told to command the people to “prepare victuals”. At this time, they were still receiving manna. During the second Passover recorded with food they prepared, they ate “old corn.” Then, at the end of passover, the manna stops. After 39 years and 11 months of gathering manna each day, on the eve of what logic would tell them would be a siege, it changed.
This change occurred at the end of the Passover, a sign of the Messiah’s power to save. Instead of manna, they will rely on the bread of life. God created plants and animals. He provides the sun and water for them to grow. Likewise, He provided His children with strength to care for and gather food. For the children of Israel, manna stopped when they were by a water source, and they were in an oasis amidst a desert.
Perhaps the way you normally expect your home to feel changes. Perhaps the way you feel the Spirit changes.Your family dynamics change. Perhaps you wonder where God is after all you’ve done. Maybe you start second-guessing everything you’ve done and feel you don’t deserve blessings.
But remember that God is still good. He is still providing for you. His grace is still there. There may be different things you need to do to receive His grace. It may even feel harder harder or different. But His grace is still there. It’s not there because you earned it. It’s not there because you are perfect. It’s there because you are His child and He loves you.
5. Do What is Yours to Do: LOVE!
Joshua and the Israelites walked around Jericho for seven days. For six days, they stayed silent as they walked and listened to the shofar. Then on the last day, they shouted and the walls came down.
We don’t know the exact distance around Jericho. Did they get blisters? Was it hot? They weren’t to touch the wall or say much. What were they thinking during that time? We know that a shofar generally signals celebration that the Savior is King. It signals God’s victory. It can signal to awaken the people to call them back to God. Therefore, the shout as connected with a shofar was likely a shout of gratitude and celebration at a victory won. How can we use music and priesthood and hope in our interactions with our children?
I’ve thought a lot about the silence of walking around the city. Was it a lonely silence or could they feel each other’s strength? It reminded me of my favorite St. Francis of Assisi quote: “Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words”.
Love. Sometimes love is quiet and lonely. Sometimes it doesn’t feel powerful. It frequently feels like it’s not enough. We are not asked to fix other people. We are COMMANDED to love them. How long? Until God says we are done (even, as he told Peter, seventy times seven). Seven is a perfect number, so we should love them the exact right amount of time. Until we are complete. It may be decades before we see walls fall down.
When you want to fix something or someone, it can be hard to love. I’m sure some of the army of Israel would have rather gone with a battering ram at the gate. It turns out that wasn’t their job. Changing someone is God’s job. When we love someone fully, we may discover that we needed more changes ourselves than we realized.
The story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho is so powerful. The realization that God announces that Jericho is already theirs before they even take a step around the walls; that by small and simple things, great things will be brought to pass, like listening, waiting, keeping your heart open, loving.
Maybe your struggle comes in the form of parenting, a college education, or scary things that are happening in our world… Whatever it is, don’t underestimate what is YOURS to do. And don’t underestimate what God will do.
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.