I joined a Beth Moore study at my church and it’s on the subject of “Believing God”. Many will say they believe IN God…but their lives don’t necessarily show they actually BELIEVE Him or His Word. This little intro could turn into a complete blog post from what I want to write today so will pause that and get on with the really encouraging and inspiring message I received last night.
The reading was from Joshua 4:1-24…and even that has more to unpack than what I want to write…so am focusing in on verses 7-11.
The Israelites were nearing the promised land. The generation before them had crossed the Red Sea and now they crossed the flooded Jordan. “The flow of the Jordan was cut off”…and the words “cut off” are repeated. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “cut off” is karat which means “to cut, cut off, cut a covenant” and is reminicent of when God first cut a covenant with Abram. Sacrificial animals were cut in two, halves facing each other and then while God put Abram into a deep sleep, God Himself walked between the halves thus signalling He was carrying the covenant for them both. (Yes the image of walking through blood is gross but any covenant worth keeping was cut in blood.) So, with the cutting off of the flow of the Jordan and God crossing through ahead of them, God seems to say “Because I have cut a covenant with you, I will also cut a path through any obstacle that stands between you and fulfillment of My covenant promises. I will make the path, but you must take the path.”
Are there paths I’m unwilling to take? Do I sit there asking God to show/tell me what to do when He’s saying “You already know what to do…you’re just waiting for Me to tell you something different.”
And then in verse 8, when each tribe is taking a stone out of the middle of the Jordan, consider the significance of “the middle”. The middle is that halfway point between where we were coming from and the Promise Land. We hold longing for the past….and longing for the freedom in the future. A step in either direction will take us closer to one or the next. Most of us know this halfway point, the place of sudden doubt and indecision.
Sometimes, there are strongholds and addictions and lifestyles in the past that as much as we hated being bound by it, was more comfortable than the unknown future of freedom in the Promise Land. We can’t picture whatsoever what a life of freedom is even like. And so we look longingly back. But here’s the thing, God isn’t asking us to picture freedom for the rest of our life, He’s just asking us to believe Him it’s there and to picture freedom until noon. And then until dinner. Until the next morning. For one day. Two days. BAM…slip and fall? That’s ok! You get to start again…Day one, two, three…one week, two weeks…one month, three months…one year. Just one day at a time. Per Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” That’s all…just go “thus far” and thank the Lord for strength to get there. Or for the strength to try again. Thus far.
And here’s an understated illustration…end of verse 10, “The people hurried over“. Can you see them hussling, jostling on through? Sometimes, the wisest thing is to just hurry over to the other side already! If we’ve received a Word from God, while the Word is still fresh, hurry over! Move it! God doesn’t tell us to do something without the power to obey it…but the longer we wait to do it, the power wanes. Spirit willing but flesh weak…this I know full well. But it’s not new…consider Exodus 14:12-15…here were the Israelites, freshly and miraculously busted out of 400 years of slavery under Egypt and pressed up to the Red Sea with the Egyptian army behind them.
What do they say? “Let us go back!”
What does Moses say? “Stand firm. Be still!”
And God? “Why are you crying out? MOVE ON!”
Sometimes, I wonder if God ever face-palms.
My destiny is the Promise Land. If I would just believe God at His Word I could tell a mountain to move and it would. Or God would give me the strength to get it under my feet and I’ll climb that thang! (Beth Moore has a southern accent and it sounds really cool when you say “thang”.) Or, God could cut that obstacle in two and we’d walk through it. He’s going to live up to His promises. But sometimes, even though the mountain has moved or has been cut, we are the ones holding onto that mountain. And God says “Move on Sweetie.”