Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Ridiculous and the Miraculous

I feel like Joshua and the Isrealites at the Battle of Jericho, having marched around and around the city walls and having blown their horns, surely feeling kind of ridiculous...and then emerging victorious (Joshua 6:1-27). This story was featured in the Veggie Tales' episode Josh and the Big Wall!, which plays up the ridiculousness by having the French peas dump blue slushies on the Isrealites and sing a mocking song ("keep walking, but you won't knock down our wall! Keep walking, but she isn't gonna fall! It's plain to see your brains are very small to think knocking will be knocking down our wall!). I would definitely recommend it.

In my mind, the struggle is not the point. The point is the miraculousness of communal ridiculousness (and obedience to God's plan, which just happens to be super ridiculous).

It took a whole group of people following God's plan, a plan that seems utterly insane, to succeed in reclaiming the Promised Land.

God doesn't always ask us to do things that make sense. Sometimes it hurts to make that decision, to press onward, to keep going on. And sometimes it feels like what we're doing is utterly insane, that it could never possibly work.

Some Biblical examples of people doing ridiculous or seemingly insane stuff:
Noah's ark (Genesis 6 ff.)
the virgin birth (Matthew 1, Luke)
Joseph marrying Mary anyways (Matthew especially)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the furnace (Daniel 3)
the Passover story-saved by lambs' blood (Exodus)
any of the miracles of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)

Those are just a few examples, though there are many more. I'm getting sleepy, so forgive my brevity (I actually wrote this part last. I rearranged everything once I got it all written, so if that "Forgive my brevity" statement seems preposterous halfway through, my apologies.)

As far as a personal example goes, I vividly remember having been upset by someone and sitting in my room one day sobbing and eventually wandering into my suitemate's room, who quickly hugged me and grabbed some of our friends. Before I knew it, I was sprawled on my friend's bed - overcome with giggles - as they composed a humorous letter and song, designed to make me feel better. My friends rallied around me, hugged me, and drank juice (my favorite beverage) with me. It was completely silly. But in being silly together, we all found a strength we didn't know we had. It was beyond the power to console. It was the power to uplift, to help somebody not only over a mental roadblock but to give them courage and return their dignity.

Another personal example: I had a period last year during which I was compelled to pray without ceasing. Those words just echoed through my mind "Pray without ceasing. Pray without ceasing." And I did, desperately, miserably, cleaving to the words as if they would let me escape. It felt silly to pray at stop lights or in the middle of an episode of a Disney Channel show. But eventually, it was like I had built a protective wall around my heart and mind. Yes, people saying hurtful things still hurt, hurtful memories still hurt. But I could see beyond that, and I could hurt for the person hurting me. Praying without ceasing went from a ridiculous impulse to an integral part of my daily life.

The ridiculous became a means of gaining new understanding, of coming closer to God at a time when I needed him most, at a time when everything felt too serious.

So, in conclusion, I suppose I'll just say never forget that "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37), even the ridiculous becoming miraculous.

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