If you know the story of Joshua, Moses successor, then you know Joshua had a Jordan river to deal with and it did not come easy, but he obeyed God nonetheless. This morning during my own personal bible study, I read the account in the book of Joshua and as my mind wandered back several thousand years to that place and time, I was able to catch a glimpse that match the reality I face today. I’ve read this account many times through my life, but for the first time, it became real for me.
I stand at a crossroad with a Jordan river of my own raging at every turn. It’s a scary place to be one full of uncertainties with no hope in sight. Back in the days of Joshua, many ancient cultures believed that rivers were sacred, just like the Egyptians honored their Nile and for those who lived in Canaan, the Jordan river was the symbol of power and they whole heartedly believed this river protected their fertility gods, their gods known as the Baals. While there is no literal Jordan for me to put my feet in, in my conscience the raging waters are very real. And as I stand in deep wonder of how, where, what and when, the river seems to be rising fast. In the physical, my true reality, I’ve reached a place in my life where nothing makes sense and chaos is trying to fill my mind and the question of whether or not I trust God has infiltrated and that alone haunts every future second given to me.
It wasn’t long ago, I found myself in a very bad disposition on a solo hiking trip and I did not have time to struggle with obeying God or not. I simply just gave it to Him to help me and He did. My future, my well-being, my entire life was being chased through a forest by evil humans, and God parted a sea or a river so-to-speak and I was delivered from a potentially, deadly moment in my life which is probably the most terrified I have ever been. But now, time has brought me to the edge of another either or. Moses stood in this very disposition as did Joshua with no where to go and a miracle to be had as their only way of escape. Sometimes, just like the Israelites, we reach moments when we have to cross a red sea or the Jordan and it takes faith to do so. As I read the account today, I studied the Jordan river itself and allow me to give you a little perspective of this particular river.
As I mentioned earlier, many cultures deemed Jordan as sacred, but the Israelites deemed it as a barrier. It was something they had to overcome and it was a huge obstacle to face in order to enter their promised land. It was during flood season and the Jordan river was flowing over its banks. I’ve read that the deepest part where the Israelites crossed was 17 feet deep and this particular river is a fast moving river with vicious currents. In 1854 an expert swimmer was unable to cross the river near Jericho because the current was too strong even for this man to swim across. I myself have swam in currents that are difficult and will wear you down quickly. But when the Jordan river floods, it becomes a turbulent river one that would make anyone change their mind about crossing and for good reason. The photo below I found on the internet, is the Jordan at flood stage.
As I stand at my crossroad with that Jordan raging around me, the photo above is the turbulence I feel inside. Fear has tried relentlessly to take me over, but God’s word tells me, “be strong and very courageous.” When hopelessness rears its ugly head, God tells me, “when the righteous cries for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” When I feel anxious, God tells me, “don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” And my life-line verse that gets me through is from Isaiah 40:31; “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” God gives me the direction I need and all I have to do, is trust Him.
But as I read this account in the book of Joshua, I imagined the Levite Priests who were the first to cross the Jordan, standing there on the edge holding the ark of the covenant, the very seat of God, and what must have been running through their minds. Were they afraid? Were they being taunted by the Canaanites watching from the other side? The Canaanites felt protected by a flooding, raging Jordan, because the waters showed Baal’s power to save them all from the approaching Israelites who were just obeying God. But these same Canaanites witnessed something so spectacular, entirely amazing and unexplainable to them. the moment those Priests toes entered the waters edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. And the waters heaped up in a town away from them called Adam and the Priests began to cross over with the Israelites following behind. Can you imagine mouths flying wide open, heads being scratched and expressions to die for as the Canaanites stood there watching the miracle from a front row view?
Those same Priests, with the ark of the covenant, felt the cold swirling water as their feet touched the edge, and in my mind I could see terror etched across their faces but trusting God was paramount and immediately, suddenly, that cold vicious river stopped, And they all crossed safely over to the other side. But the real miracle to me isn’t how wide or deep the river was, it was the fact that during flood stage they crossed over on a dry river bed. This alone tells of God’s power and how much He truly cares for His people. The same thing happened with Moses at the Red Sea.
Many times, when people come up against their Jordan, maybe its a job or a relationship that is everything but good, maybe an addiction, whatever it may be, we have a decision to make and this is where we sink or swim. The only way over to the other side is to fully trust in God and that comes by just stepping out in faith like those Levite Priests carrying the ark of the covenant did. They just took that first step and God took it from there.
As for me, I broke down and cried when I read how the river bed became dry immediately. That was God’s grace! His love for His children. He promises never to leave us nor forsake us and these are words we must cling to even while the waters rage around us and everything seems hopeless. I’ve had my share of many Jordan’s in the past. They have been stern lessons for me and as I look back, I see the fear I carried and the lack of trust in God I demonstrated while keeping my eyes on what I could do to fix the situation rather than giving it to God. But today, as I stand here once more, I’ve decided to step in by faith and let God direct my steps knowing that the outcome will be for my greater good. It’s all about the trust. But like the rest of you who have been here, its that first step into the unknown that sends voices screaming through our heads and this is where desperation tries to make our decision for us.
When we let go and let God, peace that passes all understanding is released and the joy of the Lord becomes our strength. When we become desperate for God’s help and we are grasping for an anchor for our souls, our soul will find rest in God alone. The Psalmist David also found himself with many Jordan’s to cross. He wrote in Psalm 119 verse 47, ” I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.” I, like David, find hope in God’s words because they are true and bring life to my dry bones and when I come to a Jordan, all I need to do is just wait! Wait upon the Lord to go before me and lead me to where He wants me to go. I can smile knowing I am not alone. Tonight, my heart and soul are resting in the peace God has given me. Nothing has changed in my situation, but I know God has got this and He directs my steps. There is no room for fear, doubt or anxiousness, not like before.
Where He leads, I will follow….