In 2003, hiker Aron Ralston was walking through the slot canyons of southern Utah when a large boulder came crashing down, pinning him against the canyon wall and crushing his hand. For five days, Ralston remained trapped and in severe pain, using up what meager supply of food and water that he had on hand. Only after that time did he realize that he would never get out of his predicament alive unless he did something drastic. Ralston made the difficult decision to amputate his own arm with his pocketknife and rappel out of the canyon to seek help. It’s an amazing example of how someone can stare at the impossible and find a way to survive.
I often wonder what those five days spent alone in that canyon were like for Aron. Did he feel scared? I’m sure he did. Did he feel defeat? Quite possibly. No doubt, Aron looked at his situation and felt the weight of an impossible task bearing down on him (pun intended). And in many ways, we are no different. While we may never experience being trapped by a boulder miles from civilization and rescue, we are sometimes trapped by our own individual burdens. Like the Israelites who had to face the walls of Jericho before they could claim the Promised Land, we too have our own walls to overcome. Max Lucado, in his book “Glory Days,” summarizes this point for us quite well. He says,
“Your Jericho is your fear. Your Jericho is your anger, bitterness, or prejudice. Your insecurity about the future. Your guilt about the past. Your negativity, anxiety, proclivity to criticize, overanalyze, or compartmentalize. Your Jericho is any attitude or mind-set that keeps you from joy, peace, or rest.”
(-Max Lucado, “Glory Days”)
Aron Ralston’s Jericho was a physical rock weighing close to a ton that threatened to end his life. An immovable object. A barrier to his will to survive. Luckily he was able to escape. Many times we don’t have that option. Maybe your Jericho wall is cancer. Even the doctors see no sign of hope. Or maybe your Jericho wall is despair. Everything is falling apart around you and you think there’s no possible way to fix it. Very likely, you’ve had the Jericho wall of anxiety or worry staring you in the face, and it’s so tall that you can’t even see the top.
That’s just like us you know. We look at our problems as impossible. We shackle ourselves with the fear of never being able to win or get ahead. We view our problems as I’m sure the people of Israel viewed the citadel of Jericho, as a sure defeat, and we forget that God has already promised us victory. It is God who can win any battle we may face. It is God who stares at the impossible and says, “No problem” (Matthew 19:26). It is God who has strength even in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10). We have to allow him to do the impossible, and our job is to have faith and live in his victory (Joshua 1:11).
God has the power to defeat anything that may get in our way. Just look at the example of Jericho. The impenetrable walls of the city were brought to ruin in a matter of seconds after the Israelites had circled them seven times (Joshua 6). Was it the people marching around the city that brought the walls down? Did they tread so strongly that the walls had no recourse but to crumble? I think not. The walls came down because God was in the middle of the procession. The ark of the covenant was at the center of the march (Joshua 6:12-13). A wall had been raised against God and his people and God specializes in bringing down walls. With him, no wall or stronghold can stand against us (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
What are the walls that you face in your life? Are you allowing them to cause you to lose hope? If so, remember who goes with you to face the impossible. Remember whose strength you’re meant to rely upon (Philippians 4:13). Live in the knowledge that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37), and that we have nothing to fear.
God topples walls!
What a mighty God we serve!