Obstacles are real! Have you ever noticed that everywhere you go, you are always facing obstacles? Some of these obstacles are relatively small, but at other times we face obstacles that look insurmountable from our point of view.
As we enter into 2023, the outlook seems to be filled with many obstacles. For some, the obstacle is a financial one either in your own life or at the church. Recession is a reality that affects all of us on many levels. For others, the obstacle may be related to your family or your fitness. Still, for others the obstacle is one of faith.
I talked to a lot of our Tennessee Baptist Convention family at the 2022 Summit and discovered that many are struggling with their faith. It is not that they are uncertain of their salvation, but they are struggling to trust their all to God because of the many obstacles, anxieties and distractions they are facing in both their lives and in ministry.
I am reminded of the story of Joshua and the people of God approaching the walls of Jericho in Joshua 5. The obstacle of Jericho’s walls is an obstacle that many of us can identify with as God’s people.
Maybe you are facing such a wall in your own life today. It looms large in front of you. It taunts you. It reminds you of your weaknesses and frailty. You sit in its shadow day after day wondering what to do next.
Joshua understood how you feel and so did all of his legions of soldiers. Yes, they were living in God’s promise. They were following God’s will. They were living out God’s purposes, but they still faced the walls of Jericho. It was in that moment they had a choice to make.
They could move forward or retreat. That is the choice you need to make right now as you go into 2023 and face your obstacles. Let me encourage you with a few thoughts.
First, choose to enter 2023 with a new commitment to worship. We read in Joshua 5:14, “Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in homage … (CSB).”
Joshua, the great general and leader of God’s people, fell on his face before the Lord of Armies and worshiped Him.
He was not so strong or important that he did not first need to worship. Joshua knew he could not face the walls of Jericho unless he first worshiped. As you face your obstacle, maybe it would be a good idea to start on your face before our Holy God worshiping Him.
Second, choose to enter 2023 with a new commitment to work. We read in Joshua 6:3, the Lord told Joshua and the soldiers, “March around the city with all the men of war, circling the city one time. Do this for six days (CSB).”
We start with worship, but at some point, we have to get onto our feet and face our obstacles head on under the Lord’s command. God may call you to face your obstacle in an unusual way. He may ask you to do something you do not understand. Still, we must follow God’s plan and with a new commitment get to work!
Finally, choose to enter 2023 with a new commitment to witness! When the walls of Jericho came down, it was God who received the glory, honor and praise.
It was the Lord who told Joshua this in 6:2, “The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its best soldiers over to you’ (CSB).” The victory that came into the lives of His people belonged to the Lord alone.
As we enter into a new year, we must do so in such a way that all we do is a witness for the Lord. We do not have the strength to bring down the walls and obstacles of our lives and churches in 2023. However, we serve a God who specializes in crumbling walls and giving His people the victory. Trust Him! Don’t get ahead of Him! Let’s move forward together! B&R — Hallmark is pastor of First Baptist Church, Lexington.