One foot in front of the other.
The tracks their feet had made during the silent marches of the days before today were beginning to wear a rut in the sun-baked ground surrounding the walled city. Fully-armed men marching, the only sound the heavy cadence of their footfalls. They’d been instructed to carry their weapons, but had been prohibited from using them by their commander-in-chief.
I have wondered if any of them were tempted to murmur, to voice their questions about this unorthodox way of taking a city after a generation of wandering in the wilderness. Did they think that this was just more wandering? Could they trust that this was not just some absurdist Ring-Around-The-Rosie performance art – or a sign that they were undergoing still more discipline from God because they hadn’t yet learned their lesson?
I’ve made a few laps around the same issues in my life. I have almost always viewed the rut worn by my footprints as a symbol of my failure – a stint in remedial education because I didn’t “get it” the last time I faced the issue.
Usually when people speak about this story from Scripture, it is framed in terms of God’s miraculous deliverance, which it is. But when I read the story, I find myself imagining what it must have been like to be a Jewish foot soldier on say, Day 6 of this strange siege of Jericho.
Something tells me those soldiers were changed people by the time Day 7 rolled around and the walls of Jericho came down. They’d learned that there is more than one way to conquer an enemy – and they’d learned it as they’d done laps around the same seemingly-permanent walls day after day.