This is the scripture I’ve been thinking about for a few hours now:

Joshua 15: 63 The people of Judah couldn’t get rid of the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. The Jebusites stayed put, living alongside the people of Judah. They are still living there in Jerusalem.

It’s been bothering me.

Because with the Lord’s help, the Israelites totally take over an entire region except in Jerusalem? What’s up with that? I mean, we just had a river stop, time stand still and a city fall down without anyone touching it. We couldn’t finish the job?

Then I thought some more.

And I couldn’t help looking up what “Jebusite” meant. I had to, okay? Because I was stumped. Of course it means all different things depending on who you ask, but the long and short of it is that Jebusite means to step on, kind of like when you thresh wheat or stomp on grapes.

Many people out there in cyber space that are way more qualified than I am (people who would not equate Biblical names with I Love Lucy episodes), tell me that this people group represents anything that tries to squash you. Ok, they didn’t say it that way, but that’s what they wanted to say. And I was fine with that. I like symbols.

Except.

I couldn’t help but wonder why they were still there. I mean, God got rid of all the other enemies, right? Why not these squashy people. It sounds very anti-good to go around stomping all over people’s hopes and dreams. Why do they get to stay in Jerusalem?

Right?

Then, I thought about it some more. I thought about the things in my life that squash my dreams. The things that live with me and tell me that I can’t do something or that I’m doing a bad job. You know, the things in my head. Do you have them, too? It’s a real battle facing them. It’s tougher than the people who come outright to hurt me. Those are easier to fight, easier to vanquish. These other things, aren’t so easy.

But.

When I do come across a squashy thought and overcome it with the truth like: “God thinks I’m pretty swell” then it doesn’t have to opportunity to thresh me. After that, I am stronger. My spirit rises up and tells the flesh that I choose to believe the truth, to choose life! If God just immediately wiped out all of our struggles then how would I grow? After all, how would I know what is really inside unless I was squeezed a bit?

I’m just thinking here.

I’m thinking here about the Jebusites, real ones, not just symbols, walking around in Jerusalem. I’m thinking about the tribe of Judah living with people who are not like them, people who worship strange gods. The tribe of Judah had a choice: “Will we continue to live as our God has commanded us to live or will we adopt the ways of others?” It was a character choice that they had to make every day. Think about the growth opportunity that was.

Growth opportunity. A dear friend of mine taught me that phrase when I would complain about the difficulties of my life. “Well, Daughter of Encouragement,” he would say, “that sounds like a marvelous opportunity for growth.”Then he would smile at me and laugh, not mocking laugh, but a laugh that said, “I’ve been where you are and if you learn you will tell this to someone else one day.”

Indeed, dealing with what remains is a marvelous opportunity for growth. Lord, help me to choose to grow today and not to be squashed.

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