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Archive for July 7th, 2019

Anniversaries of events are wonderful for providing reflection, perspective and thanksgiving.

As I write these words I am reflecting on the events of one year ago. A day that dawned early for us, as I still had a bit of last minute packing to do before the movers were to arrive. That day was full of reflection, perspective and thanksgiving as well, as we packed up a home, a life of fifteen years.

Now, looking back at the day and all the days since, I am full of thanksgiving, for though there were hard days, lonely days, even dark days, never were we left alone without hope.

This remembering brings to mind Joshua 4. This is the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan, which had parted for them to cross, when the ark was carried across.

I love this story, as it is the completion of the trek to the Promised Land. Though there were two leaders, directing the way (God’s way), both leaders were given a route that required them to go through deep water … the Red Sea for Moses and the Jordan for Joshua.

Moses, as he was dying, told Joshua (in Deuteronomy 31:6) :

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (those who may stand in their way), for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is the same message that Joshua was given from God himself, after Moses’ death (three times in one message from God (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9) :

“Be strong and (very) courageous”

Then, after Joshua took his place as leader, after he spoke to the people and shared the plan, they responded, in affirmation of his leadership, ending with those familiar words (Joshua 1:18) :

“Only be strong and courageous!”

He was their leader … Moses knew it, they knew it, Joshua knew it, God knew it … but this message was was not just theory, not just something to frame and place on the wall. This message was to be the mantra of Joshua, of the Israelites … of us.

Where the rubber hit the road is in the application of the message, for we cannot prove the meaning of strength and courage just when we are on our knees … we have to hold onto the meaning of this message when we are in deep water.

Soon, as Joshua and his followers were approaching the flooded Jordan, they were given opportunity to prove their allegiance to the God of Moses and Joshua … to their God.

As those carrying the Ark entered into the water, it parted, just as the Red Sea. When the Ark had reached the middle point … when they were truly in the deepest place, Joshua gave the Lord’s instruction … to have one from each tribe pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan.

Once they had crossed the river. Once those carrying the Ark came up from the Jordan, the waters returned to where they had been. Joshua had them lay their stones together, then he piled them … and there was a good reason for this.

The Lord had a reason for instructing Joshua to have them brought out of the river and then piled on the the other side :

“In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24)

These rocks/stones were part of the story of going through the place of deep waters, that their descendants would know and fear their God. But also that they would know that the strength and power of God were available to them, and to us, if we would be strong and courageous … not in our own power, but in the power of God.

These stones provide reflection, perspective and thanksgiving for a God who parts the waters.

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