He will make a way

(Introducing a new contributor {but long-time friend and former Beaver Cross Bible Camp colleague}, from upstate New York, Heather V)

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12-13

 

A name can be a powerful thing and it’s essential to understanding and being. Sometimes, we hear a name and it inspires joy and warmth. Other times, a name invokes misunderstanding and distrust. Names provide direction and identity. In this world when you hear the name God or Jesus there are many different reactions ranging from trust to fear and that can even change rather quickly. So, what can we do when we’re faced with an impossible situation like COVID-19? I find myself these days reaching out more to the Bible then I have in the last couple months looking for encouragement and reassurance that God’s name truly does save to combat my own fear and anxiety.  I found an example of a woman in the Bible that doesn’t always get talked about that has encouraged me and I hope can encourage you. This woman chose to have faith over her fear and it’s what many of us are trying to do, myself included. 

In Joshua 1:1, God’s chosen successor of Moses, Joshua is told that he was going to lead the people of Israel into the promise land, and that he was to stay strong and courageous because God was going to give the land that he promised to the Israelites. “Be strong and courageous for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them”-Joshua 1:6. So, in other words, God said to Joshua “I will answer their prayers through YOU.” Seems like a pretty heavy charge, and you’d expect the book to continue from there looking directly at Joshua to see how the champion of Israel starts to walk that out (if you look back in Exodus and Numbers, the Israelites were not always the easiest to lead…). In the middle of what appears to be a completely different narrative, we are suddenly introduced to a prostitute.

Instead of continuing with Joshua, a woman who is a citizen in the enemy city is highlighted. We read in Joshua 3:1 that he decides to send 2 spies to sneak into the city to essentially check things out. Then, we meet Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute who lived in the city of Jericho and had an inn built into the side of the walls. To add some context to this woman’s life, I’m going to paint a picture of what life was like in this society. In the city of Jericho, a common religious practice was ritual sex. Essentially, a priest would have sex with a temple prosititue on an alter publicly and, as a result of this, the people of Jericho believed their economy would improve and crops would grow. It was customary that girls as young as 10 or 11 were sent to the temple and would “serve the temple”. It is assumed that girls who did their time would move on, but some stayed because they didn’t think or know of any other way to live. It was normal. It was this religious environment that defined Rahab’s life. 

After the spies are sent into the city, they stay at Rahab’s Inn, and the soldiers of the king come looking for them. Rahab lies to the guards while she hides the spies. She protects total strangers because they came to her in the name of a God she only heard rumors about. Rumors that he had dried up the Red Sea and defeated several kings for the Israelites. She chose to protect these foreign men. She made the choice to show more loyalty to an enemy of hers then her own people, her own culture. Rahab makes them promise her that they’ll save her and her family from the battle that was coming. 

So, here are some questions that I found myself asking as I read this. Was there really a need for the spies to go? Joshua didn’t need to test God’s words, because God repeated himself over and over to him. So it’s not like he didn’t hear Him. So why did Joshua send the spies into the city of Jericho? I should also mention that Jericho was considered the walled city, the impenetrable city. It could not be breached. The walls were so tall and thick that no other army had made its way in. How did Joshua’s men get in? How did they find safety? Of all the places in the city, how did they find themselves in Rahab’s inn? Why did she defy the king and blatantly lie to save them? I don’t think that the spies found her by chance. There are too many variables, too many things that could have gone differently. What if the spies weren’t sent by God to spy on Jericho? What if they were there, in fact, to save Rahab? 

The Israelite soldiers remember her and her family when the armies come to take the city of Jericho. Joshua didn’t know that Rahab was in the city. He had no idea there was a woman with more faith than the previous generation had in all of Israel (if you’re interested the books of Exodus and Numbers can fill in the blanks on that one). Joshua had no idea who Rahab was. But God did. God knew this woman in a city that seemed impenetrable. He saw her. 

Many teachings on the walls of Jericho focus on the outside perspective of this event. But I want you to consider this event from the other side. Imagine yourself not looking at a wall of impossibility, but imagine yourself as someone inside the walls. Trapped. Worried and anxious nobody will get in. The rest of the city was terrified that the soldiers were going to overtake the city, that their way of life would be changed. They used ritual sex practices and idol worship to get through the day, and they relied on the walls to protect them. But in the midst of that fear of people getting in, there was a woman who recognized the walls did not protect her. They kept her trapped; living a life of compromises to survive. She was hoping to be free. Inside the walls of a doomed city, Rahab may have even prayed for Someone to see her, to rescue her. She was silently crying out for hope. 

Now friends, this pandemic is unlike anything any  of us has ever faced before. We have no control over what we hear on the news and from reporters and bloggers. We hear of the confirmed cases, the death rates and the rate of infections. It closes us in. It surrounds us with fear, panic and anxiety leaving us with the worst basic survival instincts. And to make it more challenging, we’re told to quarantine at home.  We start to say “I will never get through this because an invisible force is boxing me in and attacking me.” You’re the one in the city hoping something can get through and save you. Let me encourage you that the same God who heard the cries of a woman who wasn’t even considered one of “His”, is the same God who will make a way for us out of this crisis. I know this not because I’ve seen the other side but because, in this crisis, I saw first hand how he made a way for me and someone I love very much. 

Right after New York State imposed restrictions on travel and gatherings, I had someone very dear to me, let’s call them “Maggie*”, who had a medical emergency. And if anyone is wondering, the emergency room is literally the worst place to be at the minute. I went to one hospital and they wouldn’t let me in to see Maggie. I was told there were no visitors and absolutely no one was getting in. Impenetrable. Eventually, Maggie decided they needed care elsewhere to meet their needs so they decided to check themselves out, and I took them to another hospital. 

When we arrived at a hospital in a different city, it looked like something out of a movie. The streets were empty, and everyone around had masks on. I had to drop Maggie off, and when I was told to park my car, it was implied that I would not be allowed in. When I parked my car, I fell apart. I felt so alone and closed in. I did not see how I was going to be able to comfort Maggie,  who was also scared. I cried out to God from my impenetrable situation. I begged God to help me. I prayed “I know it’s impossible to get through. These regulations are to protect us, but I need to get through to be with someone I love who’s alone and in trouble. I don’t know how you’re going to do this, and I don’t know what will happen to me, but I need you to make a way. Make this impossible improbable situation possible for me.” 

I’ll be honest, I am terrified of this virus. I’m terrified of carrying this virus without knowing it to someone else.  On my own, I’m not brave; I’m not strong; and I’m not courageous. I will choose fear every time I’m faced with something I can’t control. But I remembered Rahab and how God made a way for her to be saved. She had faith, and that gave her courage. And not only was she strong and courageous, she faced rejection for the sake of those she loved.  So, I got out of the car and I prepared myself to face whatever I was walking into. I chose to have faith in the power of the name of God. 

When I walked into the hospital, the receptionist asked me a couple questions. I barely said a thing, when a security guard volunteered to escort me personally. He said “I’m going to bring you directly to them”. Then, he accidently brought me to a part of the hospital that I didn’t need to be in. So I thought my one opportunity was gone. Then someone else showed up out of the blue and spoke to me directly. They led me straight to Maggie’s bed, no questions asked. 

So not only did I get into the hospital, but, then, another family member showed up and they allowed us to switch places. I couldn’t believe it! I was trapped in a situation that I didn’t think anyone could reach into. I heard a no at the beginning of my day. Then, one step at a time, the way was cleared for Maggie to get the care they needed; they didn’t have to be alone when they were scared; and we all eventually went home. 

To the people reading this. I don’t know what your situation is. Are you afraid? Are you anxious to hear what the news is going to tell you next? Do you feel out of control and helpless? Maybe you feel like the walls are closing in around you figuratively and literally. And they are impenetrable. Is it the wall of bills that’s enclosing you? Did you just lose your job due to restrictions and closures? Is the wall COVID -19 and you don’t know how you’ll be treated or what will happen? Is your wall the reality of not leaving your house for an unknown amount of time? Is the wall of death itself? That you are stranded in a place that is supposed to heal and instead is housing the dead?  I want to encourage you to know that just like God heard Rahab’s cry behind a walled city, He hears your cry. And just like the spies who got in, God is going to reach into your situation, your life, your circumstance and He’s going to provide you with what you’re really looking for; hope. 

And Rahab, if anyone didn’t know (spoiler alert) does get rescued with her family and lives out the rest of her days in the camp of Israel. She was saved because she believed in the power of the name of God. God makes a way to rescue us and save us from sin and death itself. And right now death seems so uncomfortably close. There are cities that are trapped and surrounded by the impossible walls of disease and hopelessness, BUT there is hope. God will reach you where you are. The Holy Spirit of God has no boundaries; no restrictions. When you call on him, he listens. And even if your desperation has made you silent, He SEES you and what you’re forced to live with every day. Remember, Faith gives us our courage. And our faith comes from God, so we don’t have to manufacture it. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (paraphrase Hebrews 12:2). We don’t have to be ashamed when we ask for faith, whether it’s for more or just for some faith at all. And we have faith when we trust and call on the name of Jesus. Rahab was brave and courageous because she had faith that God would save her and her family. She didn’t choose fear. We can also choose to have faith and trust the name of Jesus. The name above all other names. The name that saves. Be strong and courageous because God knows the beginning from the end, and we can choose to have faith over fear because he is not far from us during this crisis. He’s with us behind the walls. His name can be trusted because he is the God who brings the walls down and will bring you out if you ask. 

 

*the name has been changed

I’d like to thank Peter And Liz for their editing and overall encouragement, you guys don’t realize it, but you reached me behind walls that only God knew about.

One thought on “He will make a way

  • April 21, 2020 at 7:39 pm
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    Powerful and timely article! He truly is our rescuer.

    Reply

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