Rivers: obstacles or opportunities?

There is a river in the way. But God said that the river would not be an issue. It would not be a problem. Like the Red Sea, God can do something miraculous.

But the Israelites needed to trust. And that is where we find ourselves.

This post is building on the previous two posts.

Click here for the first one or here for #2.

Pretend you are a drone, a thousand feet above the Israelite camp. You can see the Jordan river, which flows from north to south, making up the eastern border of Canaan. On the right (or east side) of the river, there stands Israel. Right now, a nation without a home. I wonder how many tents we would see. Are the animals in pens or able to roam free? This map is an estimation of the crossing location.

crossing the jordan

Everything seems to be ready. Israel is probably excited because they are (after 40 years) about to enter God’s promised land! Only one obstacle left!

Joshua 3 gives us insight to our situation. Here are the first 4 verses.

1Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubitsa between you and the ark; do not go near it.””

From these verses, even though the people were apparently ready, God was not.

Verse 3 tells the people to follow the ark. They should be used to this by now.

Verse 4 explains why. This was new ground, literally. They had never been there before.


Here is the connection to you and I in 2018.

We are ready for God to do a miracle. At least we think we are.

We want God to bolster our financial situation.

We want God to heal broken relationships.

We want God to exact revenge on the idiots in our life.

We want…it seems we are always ready for a miracle.

But are we really?

God had a slightly different plan. He wanted to be in front. He needed to be in front.

That means He gets the glory.

And many times, our desires keep God somewhere other than the front. 

ark of the covenant

The ark needed to go first. That was true for Joshua and the Israelites.

The ark (God) needs to be first in all we do. That is our take-home truth for today.

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This ark don’t float!

“But we will get wet! This thing is heavy and we are supposed to go in the water!?!? You must be crazy. Is there a plan B?”

what-are-you-crazy

I  wonder what the priests really said before they actually stepped into the Jordan river.

Joshua 3 shares a fantastic story. The story of the Israelites going into the Promised Land for the first time! But there was a river in the way. This was the first obstacle to taking over the land of Canaan.

Before I jump in (no pun intended, =-)), I want to explain something. The post prior to this one, which you can click here to read, dealt with the idea of control. This post is a follow-up. Why do we want control?

Why is it so hard to let go and give control to God?

I am going to try to answer that particular question.


Back to the Israelites…

Moses is dead and Joshua is now in charge. Joshua 1

Israel sent spies to check out Jericho, the first city in the Promised land. Joshua 2

Now, in chapter 3, the Lord is telling Joshua that they need to cross the Jordan river. But more than fording their way across, God has them do it in a specific manner.

Here are the priests, carrying the ark of the covenant on poles. They are directed to step into the water.

8“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ ”

What would you have said?

And that, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road.

God asks and we ask back.

Remember the question I am trying to answer? Here is t is again;

Why is it so hard to let go and give control to God?

My answer is simply this; we don’t trust God.

Sure, we may have trusted Him for salvation but there is more. There is always more with God.

*The Israelites just got done wandering around the desert for 40 years because they did not trust God.

*God provided manna and quail when they did not trust Him.

*He made water flow in the sand when they didn’t trust Him.

*Remember the Red Sea? They didn’t trust Him there either.

It seems that you and I are like those Israelites. God does a great thing and before too long, we go back to not trusting. Be encouraged because God still gives us grace and mercy-even when we don’t always trust Him.

In these next few posts, we will dissect Joshua 3 and learn how we can trust God again.

In the meantime, grab your swimsuit because things are about to get wet!

jordan-crossing

 

 

Let it go…and not the song from Frozen.

Life is not as complex as we think. More to the point, being a Christian is not as complicated as we make it out to be.

Now here is something that is complicated:

complex math

Don’t we tend to live life this way? Relating to this picture, we have the chalk and are creating what we think our life should be like. Graphs for finance, charts for careers, equations for relationships, formulas for God and spreadsheets for kids’ schedules!

How does it all make sense?

Truth is, I don’t think it does make sense. Sure, some people juggle life better than others but at the end of the day, we all fall short. I think one word sums it up.

Control.

We want to be in control. Every choice we make reinforces this idea. The food we eat. The clothes we wear. Where we live. The people in our lives.

We dictate it all so that the control stays within our domain.


The psalmist said it so precise and clear, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

As a shepherd himself, David knew what he was talking about. He understood that when God is in control, everything else makes sense. Yes, David still had to do the work as a shepherd. The sheep needed him.

I am not suggesting that we stop working. There are things in life we need to do.

The Lord gives us the clarity, strength, and motivation for the work in our lives. If we let God be in control while we work, then our life can make sense. Kind of like this:

simple math equation

I want to close this post with three thoughts

  1. As you read the opening lyrics to this hymn, try to grasp the simplicity in the words. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word;” ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Louisa M. R. Stead (1882)
  2. This post, more than most that I have written, is directed at me. I write about things that are matters of the heart, for me.
  3. If you find encouragement, comfort or challenge in these words, then God is at work in you too. Looks like we are on the same journey. Stay true to Him. As the saying goes, let go and let God.