When Achan fell, he fell hard. His story is recorded in Joshua chapters 6 and 7. We don’t get a lot of information about his backstory, but we can still do an autopsy of his fall.
Achan had just spent 40 years wandering with the Israelites in the desert. Those must have been hard years. I like camping, but two weeks is about my limit. 40 years would be unimaginable. That tough life certainly helps us to understand why Achan was facing an intensified vulnerability.
The fall of Jericho had placed an opportunity right in front of him. For the first time in his life, Achan had a chance to enjoy financial security. The opportunity looked perfect – and certainly seemed to be provided by God. (Remember, proximity does not equal permission.) Why not enjoy the blessing?
There was just one problem: God’s command had clearly directed the Israelites to place all of the plunder of Jericho into the temple treasury. All of it. Period. God’s command could not have been clearer. God also included the consequence that would accompany disobedience: destruction. Achan was given a clear directive which included very dire consequences.
So what happened? Why did Achan disregard God’s directive? The answer to that question leads us to the next steps in the backstory of a fall: blackout and gravity.
Blackout is the most dangerous stage in the backstory of a fall and it refers to a person’s inability to consider the consequences that will result from poor decision making.
Blackout is dangerous because the ability to consider consequences is a vital component utilized in good decision making. When a person enters blackout, this ability is disengaged. If King David had considered the consequences, he never would have spent the night with Bathsheba. If Adam and Eve had considered the consequences, they never would have eaten the fruit. And if Achan had considered the consequences, he never would have stolen from God.
When someone enters blackout, they start compartmentalizing. Compartmentalizing is the practice of dividing life into separate categories or compartments. Compartmentalization is what allows an otherwise very good and upstanding person to engage in activity that goes completely against their values and beliefs. When we ask, “What were they thinking?” the answer is clear: they weren’t thinking - they were compartmentalizing.
People work hard at compartmentalizing. They have a secret cell phone or laptop. They camouflage their calendar with fake appointments and make excuses for working late. They have a secret Facebook, email or bank account. They use snap chat and erase their texts and search history regularly. When a person enters blackout, they become proficient at living a second life. They believe they can defy gravity.
Achan hid the loot in his tent. No one saw what he did. His blackout fooled him into thinking he had escaped the consequences by committing a secret crime. But friends, no one can defy gravity. The consequences of Achan’s blackout hit hard. People died. Joshua and Israel were overcome with fear.
And that’s gravity. When someone enters blackout, life begins to spiral out of control. The person experiences the exhilaration of freefall as they continue to make decisions that defy reason.
When their secret life is exposed, freefall ends and they hit rock bottom. Someone who falls is haunted by their blackout and freefall. How could they have been so stupid? How could they have put everything at risk? They keep asking themselves, “What was I thinking?”
And now we know the answer - they weren’t thinking. They entered blackout and gravity took over.
Are you in blackout? Are you living a secret life that no one knows about? Do you believe you are getting away with it? Be cautioned my friend - no one defies gravity. Your compartmentalized life is costing you in ways you can’t imagine. And when the freefall ends, the consequences will be devastating.
But I have good news - it doesn’t have to happen that way. Confession is a powerful way to end blackout and stop the freefall. Confession is humiliating, but it is the vital component that leads toward redemption and restoration. If you’re ready to come clean, find a trusted friend or professional who is not a victim of your compartmentalized life. Let confession begin with them. Today is the best day to regain consciousness and stop the freefall. It’s never too late to start doing the right thing. This could be your best day. My prayers are with you.
“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16