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raging river at flood stage

When I say go… Joshua 1

It’s hard to know what to do; where to put your effort. For some folks that comes easy. For me, not so much. I really take my faith seriously. Following Christ colors every part of my life. Yet that “following” part isn’t always crystal clear. Life is demanding. Priorities get confused; and soon each day yields a muddled mess of dishes, meals, errands, to-do lists and a prayer that it was all worth something. A friend of mine once sent me a beautiful quote (that I can’t find now) saying that Christ is found among the pots and pans as much as He is in the sanctuary. I love that truth. Yes, He is ever-present. Yet, while I know I have to do my dishes (and I hate doing them), shouldn’t there be something bigger? 

I’m a big-picture kinda gal. I want to know where we’re headed. My faith struggles to leave that knowledge with the Lord and follow when He speaks- not knowing the overall plan. And what if I don’t hear nor recognize that still, small, voice, when He speaks to my heart? Those meal plans, loads of laundry and calls to make can sure take up a lot of headspace. They nag, yet He whispers.

One of my earnest prayers has been that I would recognize His leading, undeniably. I don’t want to miss a small opportunity that I don’t see the point in, because I had a great idea I wanted to do instead. Like every soul pursuing Christ, I wrestle to place His priorities before mine. Often, I fail.

In our congregation, we’ve been going through the book of Joshua.  It’s action-packed. Big, big things take place in this book. Not a lot of dish washing here. Ahhh, but when we began diving into these ancient words, I was reminded of their context.

Israel had just been desert nomads for 40 years. Their time there in the wilderness held mighty miracles- the cloud by day and fire by night that lead them; the daily manna. But daily miracles eventually become mundane, don’t they? Expected. Commonplace. Out in that wild terrain, and entire generation died, save 2. They died with no home. The same meal every day. They lived 40 years without ever experiencing the bigger picture. And they did a lot of dishes; a lot of pointless, routine stuff. (This was all for a specific purpose, but I’m not getting into all that here.)

Then BAM! God spoke. And He said big things! 

He said, “Don’t be afraid”, umm… a lot. That right there should tell you something.

It was undeniably Him. Joshua jumped to respond. Here’s what sticks out to me- Joshua was Moses’ right hand man. Heir to the throne, if you will. But really, who was he compared to Moses? Talk about a hard act to follow! Josh had some big shoes to fill. Most everyone who had seen Moses in action- the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and so on, they were dead. And many of the witnesses who still lived were too young at the time to remember. Sure there were the stories. But there were also 40 years of complaining, wandering, and unfulfilled promises. Could Joshua really expect a whole nation’s worth of people to follow him into a river? This did not look good, friends. If they even made it across the Jordan without drowning (not much for swimming lessons in the desert), then what? Then they face a fortress of a city, whose watchmen saw them coming; or go back through the river.

The Jordan river now is not what it used to be then. There’s only about 3% of the water left that ran through just 100 years ago. Photographs taken in the early 1900’s show what it looked like at flood stage.

 

Now, imagine several thousands of years ago, not just hundreds. The outer banks of the river were swampy, not barren.

Yeah, kind of a big deal. The LORD’s command to Joshua and the people was absurd. Ridiculous. Impossible! Send in the ark, Israel’s most prized possession, first. What?! (Imagine being one of the priests who’s job it was to carry the ark. Yikes!) Walk across the river bed on dry land. (Ummmm, say again?)

But the nation, the whole nation, jumped into action. They packed up those dirty dishes, the life they had always known, and moved toward the river. Their excitement must’ve been electrifying! This was what they had been waiting for all these years.

The prospect of what the LORD was asking them to do was terrifying. But that’s what He does. When He speaks, He asks one thing. Obedience. Usually obedience in impossible circumstances, let’s be honest. “Do not be afraid….” “Only do what I command you….” When He says “Go” the stakes are often high, the chances of devastating failure are astounding. Though sometimes, He asks a small thing. Something that seems silly. Or inconsequential.

This message hit home for me. I had just been struck by an idea that burned in my soul. Was it Him compelling me? Or was it the paint thinner fumes I had been breathing for awhile? I asked Him to make it clear if He was moving on my heart or not, and two days later, I heard this message. I moved forward, and He made it happen. That experience in obedience was rejuvenating to my faith. Sometimes, we do laundry, grocery shipping and scrub pans. And then sometimes, we run toward the flooded river, yelling “Freedom!” like William Wallace (Ok, like Mel Gibson in Braveheart), and watch Him pile the waters in a heap.

Like our pastor said, “When He moves, you move.” It’s worth it.

So tell me, when has He parted the waters in your life? When has He moved on your heart undeniably, and made the impossible happen? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to know!

~m

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