March Madness

They were the ultimate #16 seed. Not much talent, not much experience, not much depth. Their opponent was a classic #1, with a formidable defense, more offensive weapons at their disposal, battle-tested and feared by all around. There was little doubt in picking this bracket.

When Joshua led the rag-tag warriors from the children of Israel to battle against the army enclosed in the fortress of Jericho, there wasn’t much chance that they could win that battle. No one had ever heard of the little Israeli army of misfits who had spent the past generation wandering in the desert, and everyone knew that Jericho was not someone you’d want to mess with. It was truly a battle of grasshoppers vs. giants.
But as part of God’s plan for His people to possess the possession of their promised land, Jericho stood in the way. The pagans who lived and battled in Canaan land may have looked like giants to those who doubted, but to those who saw with eyes of faith they were not to be feared. They were to be conquered.
The Old Testament book of Joshua, chapters 5 and 6, tells us that Joshua received his orders from no less than an angel of the Lord, and they were quite strange battle plans to say the least. He was to take his army and march around the fortified city of Jericho one time a day for six days, and then on the seventh day they were to march seven times, with the priests blowing their trumpets. After their seventh lap, and a long blast from the trumpet, all the people were to shout. And the walls of the city would collapse.
Seriously?What kind of game plan is that? March around a fort? That’s it? That’s madness.
But it worked. It did not require great wisdom, but obedience. There was no ingenuity expected, just a totally dependent faith. They weren’t asked to be perfect marksmen, just willing marchers. And when they did what they were commanded–as outlandish and maddening as it may have appeared–God did His part in a way that confounded the wisdom of men once again. He does have a way of doing that, haven’t you noticed?
It’s that time of year when “March Madness” is at a fever pitch and everybody pulls for the underdog bracket-busting “Cinderellas” to sneak up on their higher-seeded opponents and surprise the nation in the NCAA basketball tournament. Unless, of course, you’re my future son-in-law Blake, who went 15-1 in his picks on Thursday in his first bracket ever.
If you watch much basketball the next few weeks, you will no doubt hear references to the Davids facing off with Goliaths. Every time you do, I hope you’ll be reminded that God has a history of taking the unexpected, unseemly and unlikely, and doing something unheard of, when we are willing to trust in Him. All He requires is that we march, in obedience to His leading.
I’m thankful that God doesn’t always work by the seedings of the bracket, drawn up by the expectations of men. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) May your heart be totally His today.
I’m praying for you, as I trust you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
–Pastor Ken