There is nothing my journal circa 2006 and 2007 didn’t hear about more than my longing for a BFF, a Best Friend Forever.
I was beside myself. I daydreamed and fantasized and cajoled and predicted and asked God for signs and overall just would not shut up about being lonely and wanting more friends.
The only problem was that’s all I did. I didn’t say hi to kids my age at church. I was even kind of cold to my classmates at school!
It wasn’t until around 2008 that something finally clicked – I had to put effort into friendships! Enlightened, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
You know who else was buckling down for some hard labor? Joshua and the Israelites.
They’ve crossed the Jordan, they have defeated the fortress city of Jericho, and now they face their next enemy – the wicked city of Ai and its inhabitants.
High off of their success, giddy with their assurance that God will come through for them again, they attack.
And they fail.
They retreat, humbled and missing 36 men (verse 5). They’re devastated and embarrassed and in pain and frightened.
So what happened?
How to figure out if you’re blocking your blessings
It wasn’t long before God told the Israelites exactly what went wrong: they had been blocking their own blessing.
Someone in their camp had hoarded spoils of war from their attack on Jericho. This had been strictly forbidden by God, but this person had done it anyway.
Because of this simple sin, God had withdrawn His protection from the Israelites. Without God’s help, even the strongest army fails.
So what can a modern day follower of God do to avoid the same catastrophe? Read on.
Step 1: Have you been feeling unprotected lately?
When the Israelites were blocking their blessings, it only naturally followed that God, the blessings Giver, took a step back. He allowed them to hurt and to suffer.
If that sounds cruel or even just petty, think about having a thorn in your shoe. You won’t have it in there for long, because pain immediately lets you know that something is wrong in there, and you pull it out.
What if you didn’t feel any pain or discomfort? Everything was just breezy? You wouldn’t take the thorn out at all. Maybe it would dig even deeper into your skin. Maybe it would damage a nerve or you’d lose a lot of blood. Ultimately, the consequences of leaving the thorn in your skin would be worse than the pain that would have let you know that the thorn was there.
What happened with the Israelites is the exact same thing, only the thorn is sin. If sin is embedded in your life, yet God just keeps protecting you, making sure everything is breezy, you’ll never pull the sin out of your life.
And sin hurts a lot worse than a thorn. Sin breaks up families, destroys relationships, corrupts nations – need I go on?
Sometimes when God allows us to hurt or to suffer or to experience pain, it’s because He’s trying to alert us to something that would cause even more damage if left untreated.
This isn’t the only reason we experience pain. The Bible has a lot more to say about it.
But alerting us to sin is still a reason why we suffer. And if you’re wondering if you’re blocking your blessing, maybe this is one way of sussing it out.
Step 2: Don’t trust your gut
Once Israel was alerted to the problem, they dug it out. It was found in a man called Achan. He had stolen silver, gold, and designer clothes from the Jericho plunder – even though he knew he shouldn’t. His exact words were “I coveted them and took them” (verse 21).
I can imagine what went through Achan’s mind when he took the stuff because it might have been what would have gone through my mind: All these riches going to waste? No way! They won’t miss what I take! This is not a big deal.
And, like, is the logic even that far off? It doesn’t seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things. People have done worse, are doing worse, and will continue to do worse until the end of time. My little sins are nothing to lose sleep over. God knows my heart.
But God does know our heart – and that’s why we can’t get away with even the little sins.
Every sin is a choice, a decision to stick it to the man, the man in this case being God. We’re saying we don’t care what God has to say because He’s not the boss of us anyway.
It may feel right. Our consciences might not even prick at us that much, especially if this “little sin” is a habit of ours.
But we can’t trust our feelings, our intuition, or our own naive ideas of what God should be okay with.
Sin is sin. And God is clear about what it is and what it isn’t. And if we’re ignoring Him, how can He cosign our behavior by blessing us?
When we sin, we block our blessings. Plain and simple. We can learn this the hard way, like Achan, or we can make a different decision.
Step 3: Confess your sin and destroy it
Belief. Humility. Honesty. And a firm decision. These are the only things we need to confess our sins and repent.
If we believe that God’s way of doing things is better than our way and we are humble and honest enough to admit where we went wrong, then what naturally follows is a decision. A heart that boldly says “I want to be different, Lord, whatever that looks like.”
The thing that scares me about repentance is the thought that if I give up certain sins, I won’t have fun anymore. I imagine a dreary life, a boring Denee, and empty free time.
But doesn’t that fear, that resistance, that unwillingness betray unbelief? If I really believed in God and who He is and what He’s said, then I would believe that His way is best for me.
And when I finally choose Him, won’t He bless me?
No, He won’t turn into a vending machine or a fairy godmother, but He will bless me. With joy. With peace. With hope.
I want that. And I’m not the only one.
“I can’t wait to pour out so many blessings that you won’t have room to receive them.”
Ultimately, the best way to find out if you’re blocking your blessing is to ask God. He’s not a snickering mastermind or a puzzle maker. He hasn’t sent you on a scavenger hunt.
He wants you to find your way home.
Look at Joshua. From verses 6 to 9, Joshua unloaded on God. He was angry. He was doubtful. Then he caught himself, asked for forgiveness – only to continue pouring out his weary heart.
And God wasn’t mad or shocked or unprepared. He answered Joshua. He told him exactly what the problem was and how to deal with it.
That’s the same God you and I have the privilege of coming to. Not only is it our privilege, it is our only option. We need God, desperately, if we’re ever going to see any change in our lives.
Back in 2008, I did my best to stop blocking myself and find the friendships I longed for. The only problem is, I forced it. I became a people pleaser, bending myself and coaching myself and second-guessing myself until I became who I thought they wanted me to be.
And I learned that there’s only so much we can do by gritting our teeth and insisting we do it all ourselves.
It’s once we confess our sins and decide that we are willing to change forever that God makes it so.
I stopped blocking my blessings and trying to force friendships and I found my BFFs.
And if we do the same thing, we will find joy. And peace. And blessings. And a stronger bond with our loving Heavenly Friend.
What do you think? Are you blocking your blessings from God?