We can be a lot like Wolverine. Maybe we lack adamantine claws and mutant healing abilities, but we all possess his stubbornness at times. We have our way of doing things and don't want to follow the rules or someone else's orders. We often act without thinking things through. Whether it's our boss, teacher, parents, or anyone else telling us what to do, we think we know better at least half of the time. But what happens when we get this Wolverine-esque attitude with God? What do we do when we think we know better than the Almighty?
There is a man in the Bible who fits Wolverine's description rather well. He is a warrior through and through, solves problems with fighting first, and has a defining moment that revolves around obeying his commander.
You know that friend of yours who's always looking for a fight? The guy or girl who's always saying stuff like: "What did he just call me?" "Say that again to my face!" "You wanna go? Let's do this!" "Oh no she didn't!" I think that was what Joshua was like. Why? Joshua was a warrior. He was the one who led God's people into the promised land and fought battle after battle to gain the land.
His battle minded nature is probably best seen in Exodus 32:17. When Moses had gone up to the mountain to receive the commandments from God, Joshua had gone with him. Meanwhile back at camp, the Israelites had created a golden idol and begun worshiping it. On their way back down the mountain Joshua and Moses could hear the chaos below. What did Joshua think he was hearing?
"When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp." -- Exodus 32:17
He mistakes their singing and cries of prayer for the sounds of warfare. That's the kind of guy Joshua is. He is always ready for a fight.
Knowing that Joshua was a guns blazing kind of guy, I can only imagine how he felt when he led the Israelites to conquer Jericho. As they approached the city, his mind was probably filled with tactics and plans. The city had huge walls and Joshua was certainly making plans to overcome them. He could send a small strike team into the city to open the city gates at night and allow Joshua's army in. He could construct ladders they could use to scale the walls. They could surround the city and prevent anyone from leaving or entering. Jericho would surrender when their supplies ran low. Joshua, the warrior, was certainly planning something.
Super Submission & Super Obedience
It was as they approached Jericho that Joshua saw him. A solitary man on a hill. A man with a sword drawn. A soldier. Perhaps he was a scout from Jericho, a messenger to negotiate terms or warn Joshua away. Perhaps he was the leader of a neighboring group that also wanted to see Jericho fall. Joshua approached him and asked a straightforward question but received a rather confusing answer.
"Are you for us or for or for our enemies?" (Joshua 5:13)
"Neither" (Joshua 5:14)
Whose side are you on? That's what Joshua wanted to know. Are you on my side or are you with Jericho? But this man was no ordinary man. He was the commander of the army of the Lord. God shows up to tell Joshua something. I'm not on Jericho's side, but I'm not on your side either. God was not there to follow Joshua's orders, plans, tactics, or commands. God was taking charge of the mission. God was not there to help Joshua achieve all of Joshua's hopes, dreams, and desires. God was there to bring His own desires to pass. Joshua asks God, "Are you on my side or theirs?" God tells him, "I'm on my side and you need to fall in line behind me."
Then God takes it ten steps further. He lays out the battle plan, the winning strategy for the conquest of Jericho. I can only imagine what glorious strategies Joshua must have been expecting from God. Yet God hands Joshua the most foolish strategy possible. Not a single arrow was to be fired. No strike team was to be sent in. No ladders were to be built and no attempt was to be made to scale the walls. There was no rationale behind God's plan. In all honesty, it was a stupid one. God commands Joshua to march his entire group around the city of Jericho for a week and then blow some trumpets and shout. This is juvenile. Not only that, but it made them rather vulnerable as the priests, women, children, and elderly were all dangerously close to the enemy city.
It was a moment of crisis for Joshua and we often read the story without giving this moment enough thought. How would the mighty warrior respond? Would he follow his gut, instinct, and experience and attempt to take Jericho with a strategy that could actually work? Or would he submit to God's plan and obey His ridiculous strategy? Would He trust that God knew what He was talking about?
We all know the way the story ends. Joshua obeys God. They marched in circles, blew trumpets, shouted like a bunch of goofs. And then the walls came tumbling down. Joshua did nothing that day. It wasn't his plan they followed. It wasn't his might that fell the walls. It wasn't his instincts that proved right. And yet. . .
So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land. -- Joshua 6:27
Even though it seemed Joshua did nothing, that was the day he became famous. That was the day he became a hero. Why? Because there was something he did that is easy to miss. He submitted to God's leadership and he obeyed God's ridiculous plan. And he is a hero to this day because of it.
Be a Hero
Sometimes following God is easy and obvious. Be nice to people. Be generous to those in need. Don't murder. Simple. Relatively easy. But sometimes following God is tough. Sometimes it seems like God's rules are downright backwards and . . . dare I say?. . . stupid. Try to make it in business these days while being totally honest and never taking advantage of anyone as God's Word commands. Try to make it through public high school in the summertime without lusting after any of the girls in short shorts and tank tops. Try making it to your wedding day a virgin. Try not getting revenge when people wrong you and watch how quickly people realize they can walk all over you. Try any of those things and I guarantee there will be days you wonder if God's plan is an effective one. It can seem like God is a little out of touch with the reality of how His world works. Sometimes God's plan for you will just seem ridiculous.
You and I need to recognize two things though. First, God is not there to give us suggestions we can take or leave to help our lives. God owns our lives and He has the right to call the shots. He doesn't join our side, we need to join His. Second, God's ridiculous plans work, but only when we obey. There is no wall too big for God to crush, no problem too complex for Him to solve, and no person so scary God cannot overcome them. His plan may seem ridiculous, but that's only because we don't see the bigger picture. We need to trust that He does.
The summer before college I worked my butt off to be able to buy a laptop for school. Money was tight for my mom and my dad had agreed to pay my tuition, the laptop was up to me. When it was all said and done I was set to buy a standard laptop. It was hard, but I made it. Then I felt a deep conviction to tithe off of my income. Actually, I felt led by the Holy Spirit to give $500 to the church, way more than 10%. That seemed ridiculous to me. I knew what God wanted me to do, but how on earth would I make it through college without a laptop? This was insane! I wrote the check and put it in my wallet to stick in the plate that Sunday. It was that very day that my mom told me she had been saving up to get me a laptop. She had saved enough to get me a state of the art Macbook, way better than the cheap laptop I was planning on buying!
When God's way seems silly, outdated, foolish, dangerous, or any other form of bad, trust Him. Don't be an independent Wolverine who doesn't play by the rules and makes rash decisions. Recognize that He calls the shots in your life. Obey His ridiculous plan. Then stand in amazement when His plan falls into place.