This morning’s devotion comes to us from Sean Norris.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” (Joshua 6:1-5, ESV)

In my high school days, I had developed a reputation for being a bit of a tough guy. I didn’t care one bit what other people thought of me. Back then I would describe myself as “confident, not cocky.” I drove a big blue Ford pick-up truck, I was a jock, and I swore a lot. I had a pretty hard exterior, and this was completely intentional.

rules2

I was just like Jericho; I needed a strong defense because on the inside I was weak, and weak was vulnerable. I built up walls to prevent any kind of infiltration: nothing got in, nothing got out. The fact of the matter was that I really just wanted to have someone infiltrate, but I wanted them to stick around after seeing what was on the inside of the wall. But I didn’t think that someone existed. The potential for being completely routed was too great, so the wall remained.

Times have changed. I don’t drive a big pick-up anymore, and I am embarrassed by my old mantra, but I still have that old desire in my life to build up that wall. It may look a little different, but it’s really the same, and I think it’s a common tendency.

It’s certainly true of our relationship with God. For centuries humanity has developed intricate belief systems to defend ourselves against God’s invasive grace. We don’t believe that it is possible for Him to actually love us as we truly are. All we know is conditionality, and we’re often sure God is no different. Religion generally helps us here: we can maintain some notions of responsibility and control in relation to God, and we like that, because that way it’s up to us as to how much God is allowed in. If we are “co-laborers with God,” we can forget that we are trapped in a game of self-preservation. How can we be free when we are too scared to actually face whom we really are?

Thankfully, God has “given Jericho into your hand.” He breaks through your walls and claims you for His own. He takes your sin. Through the cross He unlocks your self-fashioned prison and calls you into the freedom of His unconditional grace.