Joshua and God are having a conversation about how to do battle at Jericho.
Joshua: "Here's how I see it, Lord. We have two options. We can lay siege to the city and starve them out. That will probably take about two years. Now, given the large number of walled cities in Canaan, it will probably take about 200 years to complete this campaign."
God: "That's too long. I want to do it faster."
Joshua: "Then the second option is to do a full-frontal assault. We storm the walls of the city. Of course, we'd be under constant fire from the archers, and as soon as we put the ladder up on the wall we'll face the infantry. It will be hand-to-hand fighting. We estimate a casualty rate of 50 percent."
God: "No, that casualty rate is too high. We have other battles to fight."
Joshua: "Well, then Lord, what do you have in mind? I'm fresh out of ideas."
God: "Here's the plan: I want you to gather the army, and have them march around the city once a day for six days. Stay beyond archery range. Just march. Carry the ark in front of you. Tell the priests to blow on the ram's horns. Then come back to camp. On the seventh day, I want you to do the same thing. Have the ark lead out, but this time march around seven times. The seventh time around, have the priests blow the ram's horns and have the army give a battle cry. The wall of the city will fall down. They will be defenseless. Then go in and conquer the city."
Joshua: "Beg your pardon, Lord, but I've never heard of fighting a battle that way. You say circle the city once a day for six days, and then on the seventh day, circle it seven times. The horns blow, we shout, and the walls fall down. Lord, am I dreaming or am I on drugs or something?"
God: "No. You're wide awake. I think my instructions are pretty clear. What's the problem?"
Joshua: "Well, Lord, it's just that's not the way we fight battles down here on earth. We work out strategies, make plans, and then go into battle."
God: "And how well does the plan work once the battle starts?"
Joshua: "Lord, there's an old saying: 'No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.'"
God: "So, Joshua, do you want to follow your plan that you know won't work once the battle starts, or do you want to follow my plan, since I already know what's going to happen?"
Joshua: "Good point Lord. So how do I persuade the army this is a good plan?"
God: "Remind them of all I have done. Remind them how last week I stopped the Jordan River from flowing, and you all crossed on dry ground. Remind them how I've sent manna every morning to feed them all their lives. Remind them I kept my promises to their parents and led them out of slavery in Egypt. Remind them you saw with your own eyes how I parted the Red Sea and how you heard my voice on Mt. Sinai. Joshua, tell them your story. Help them believe."
Here's the rest of the story: Joshua did what God told him to do. For six days the army marched. On the seventh day, they circled the city seven times. The horns blew; the army shouted. The wall fell.
It's the most basic choice of life: Do you want to fight battles your way or God's?
Hint: God has a better success rate than you do.
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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