Dear whoever was in the committee of people at the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1989 that decided the theme of that year's Super Summer and Youth Evangelism Conference would be "Shout it Out Texas!" based on the verses found in the book of Joshua that describe the activities surrounding the Israelite destruction of Jericho,
I'm beginning to wonder, have you ever read the book of Joshua? I've been trying to read it for the past few weeks and can't get past all the killing. Today I finally got to chapter 12 and am just plain exhausted.
Were you aware that after the people of Israel "shouted it out" and the walls fell, that they then proceeded to kill almost every single person in Jericho, including women and children AND animals? Spears pierced flesh, hearts stopped beating and blood flowed in the streets, forming puddles like the one we see on the news today, near the same place. Whoever wrote the book of Joshua didn't make that part look pretty, so why did you? I was left believing the walls just fell down and God's people moved into the neighborhood and woke up the next morning to knock on the Jerichoans door to ask to borrow a cup of sugar and a couple of eggs. And if I would just "Shout it Out" by telling people about Jesus then the metaphorical walls of people's hearts would fall down and they would love Jesus like I was taught to love him.
And what about the whore? Why didn't you tell me God used the whore? I remember hearing about Rahab in Sunday School as a young child. But it seems once I hit puberty all talk about this important prostitute ended and it was all just about the walls falling down. I left Super Summer and the Youth Evangelism Conference that year with a "love for Jesus" and a disdain for the whores. Yet it seems to me that God honored the faithfulness of those I came to believe were God-forsaken. Why didn't I learn that summer that God works through those I was "shouting it out" to?
Please don't think I no longer follow the God you taught me about. I try to give my life to God, yet it's much harder now than you made it out to be back in '89. I can't read these things anymore and moralize and spiritualize the lessons without first wrestling with the brutal plot twists and turns. I get to chapter 12 now and have to ask myself, "This is the God I follow?"
It is, and i'm on a runaway train. I've made my choice and I'm sticking with it. But I'm not always a gung-ho member of the "Shout it Out" club. When I read our story I cannot gloss over the ugly parts.
I guess what I'm saying, whoever was in the committee of people at the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1989 that decided the theme of that year's Super Summer and Youth Evangelism Conference would be "Shout it Out Texas!" based on the verses found in the book of Joshua that describe the activities surrounding the Israelite destruction of Jericho, is that I appreciate your willingness to teach me about God. But I hope and pray in the future you think twice about taking war narratives from the Old Testament and turning them into a cheerfest for a group of rowdy teenagers. Kids need to know the God they follow is not tame and whose story is full of weird things that should make us scratch our heads more and "shout it out!" less.