Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Step into the Water

"It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap." (Joshua 3:13 NASB)

Many years ago during a visit to my sister's, her pastor preached a sermon from this passage. We were facing a difficult decision, unsure where to go, where to turn. We heard from the Lord that day, sitting as guests in that church. And while it wasn’t easy, we knew the only way for us was to move forward into the flooded waters.

When God brought the children of Israel to the Jordan at the end of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness, it was the spring run-off. The snow was melting in the mountains at the headwaters of the Jordan, and now the river was a mighty, rushing, dangerous river, possibly overflowing its banks. And God’s instructions to the children of Israel was to enter the Promised Land—now was His perfect time.

I’ve seen mountain streams and rivers during the spring run-off in the Rockies of Colorado. And I saw video of the same streams and rivers in raging flood stage when Colorado received record amounts of rain this past fall. The damage the water can wreak, the danger to life to those caught in its raging heights, is enormous.

Yet God told the children of Israel to move forward. This was His path for them. They had already missed their first opportunity to enter the land forty years before and balked, unwilling to trust God to remove the giants in the land. Now the people were ready to follow God.

But I’m sure there were many fearful souls lining up to cross that day. I love the picture of God going before them. The ark was God’s presence in the midst of the people. The priests who carried the ark were the first to enter the water. Those lead priests, the two carrying the front of the ark, very probably obeyed with their legs and feet shaking so much it was hard to stand on the planted foot as they stepped forward by faith.

Once again, we are faced with difficult decisions on several fronts. And once again, the Lord is telling us to move forward into the raging unknown. Too often, I’m tempted to wait it out. Surely the Lord doesn’t mean for us to go through this difficult if not extremely dangerous way before us. He’ll remove the obstacle or surely He’ll lead us around it.

But that is not the way of faith. Since we moved to Missouri at the beginning of 2012, the words the Lord has given me for each year have all come from Hebrews 12:1–3. Focus, persevere/endure, and balance/moderation. While two of those words aren’t specifically found in this passage, they are implied. Here is the passage from The Message, a paraphrased version of scripture:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

What is the difficult path before you the Lord is asking You to follow? Are you facing the raging floodwaters of Jordan? Step forward by faith, believing that He is always faithful, always good, always guiding (Lam. 3:23; Rom. 8:28; Isaiah 41:1-2, 58:11).

The words of this magnificent hymn of the faith expresses this principle—walk forward in faith even though the obstacle seems insurmountable and extremely dangerous:

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.


Norma Gail said...

Thanks, Margie! I needed that!

CC said...

142Sometimes our Lord does lead us right through the raging waters, but He has promised they will not overflow you. He may bring us to it, but He will see you through it!
Praying for you Margie! Love you!
Aunt Carol

Paula Moldenhauer said...

Powerful words my friend. Love you!

Anonymous said...

When I saw your headline I was reminded of Bryan's message, but what I didn't remember was that you were there that day too. That message was many years ago, but so amazing that the visual still has such an impact on us both. Love you and am praying for you as you "step into the water."