But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its mighty warriors.” Joshua 6:2 nlt
In massage therapy, the concept of muscle memory is extremely important. Muscle memory is the idea that the body retains the memory of specific repetitive actions so well that the action can be repeated in the future with little to no mental prompting. The example of this most often referenced in common conversation is the phrase “it’s just like riding a bike.”
Unfortunately, this muscle memory doesn’t discern between positive repetitive actions and negative repetitive actions – they will remember them alike. Therefore, when something physically bad happens to a person repetitively, a muscle memory will exist of that. This will cause the abused individual to have an almost automatic response to any perceived precursor to that muscle memory. Oddly enough, many times that negative muscle memory is stored in a person’s neck; the person will be unable to relax any time his or her neck is approached in any way. In massage therapy, the therapists are taught to avoid working on individual’s neck area if a history of abuse is present. But what do you do if the pain issue a person is dealing with originates in their neck?
I got to thinking about all of this because I see this “neck issue” a lot in my relationships. I will have an issue with something, but the root cause of the issue is in my neck and I do NOT want to talk about my neck. Or, someone I love wants to change something big in their life but they don’t want anyone touching the “neck” of the problem.
In Joshua, the Israelites were about to begin their first big battle. The city God commanded them to take first was Jericho. There was a problem, though:
“Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go in or out.” (Joshua 6:1 nlt)
So, the Israelite’s first battle had a “neck” – this neck was a fortified wall up to 25 feet high and 20 feet thick completely surrounding the city. How did God deal with this neck?
“But the LORD said to Joshua, ‘I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its mighty warriors. Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the horns, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the walls of the city will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the city.” (Joshua 6:2-5 nlt)
So, did he tell them to charge the city gate? Did he tell them to fling flaming balls of rocks and straw at the walls until they broke down? Did he tell them to scale the walls? No. He commanded them to proceed with patience and trust that God alone will LITERALLY destroy the wall.
Do I have that kind of patience and faith in my issues within myself? Not often. I usually end up trying to convince myself that there is no wall – or neck – and go on with my half-life. Do I utilize this patience and faith when helping others deal with their wall – their neck – or do I try to push the wall over for them?
God promised us victory a long time ago, and it is still ours today. The victory is ours in our own troubles as well as in the lives of those we love. When I try to avoid my issues or encourage others to avoid their issues, the problem never goes away. When I try to be my own (or someone else’s) savior, the problem usually gets bigger or I lose a relationship over it. What if, instead, I were to give it to God, trust his promises, and spend my time walking around that city with Him. What if I were to hold my loved one’s hand in prayer and let God touch his or her neck?
Challenge: The next time I feel like avoiding my “neck” issue or aggressively helping someone else with theirs, I will instead pause and consider how I could let God be the wall breaker and neck healer.