One of the things I learned as a soccer mom is that you can drive anywhere with a good set of directions and map; even if you’ve never been there before. I drove all over the state of New Jersey, from the top to the bottom, taking my son Christopher to his soccer games that way. Nowadays GPS will get you where you need to go, but I still prefer a map and written directions! Whether you use GPS or a map and directions is up to your personal preference, but unless you get in the car, turn the key and pull out of the driveway, you aren't going anywhere.
In Joshua 3, we find Israel ready to embark on a journey into the Promised Land. They had wandered through the desert for 40 years, lived on manna, camped in tents and survived a few skirmishes along the way. And now, after some initial preparation, the people were ready to enter the land. But there was one final obstacle in the way, the Jordan River. The Jordan is a pretty river. Its Hebrew name means “descender”. And that is just what it does from the base of Mount Hermon all the way down to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on the face of the earth). Sometimes it’s only as wide as a creek, but at the time of the Spring harvest its banks easily overflow. The Jordan River at flood stage can extend its width from 35 feet to 1 mile. Its gently flowing current can become a gushing torrent when the waters fill up. And this is the time of year when Israel arrives to enter the land.
Can you imagine what was going through their minds? Here are a few suggestions: “We can’t cross this river! Its banks are overflowing!!”, “O.K. Lord, it’ll take a few days, but we can gather some trees from Shittim, get some pitch and build a few rafts”, “What are you thinking Lord? We are desert people! No one here knows how to swim!” Crossing the Jordan must have seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. But in order to enter the Promised Land, Israel had to cross it.
Even more surprising are the words in verse 13, "And it shall come about when the soles of the priests who carry the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest (not BY, not NEAR, but...) IN the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan which are flowing down from above shall stand in one heap". Notice there’s no “toe-testing” here (You know that little “dipping motion” we do when we want to see how warm or cold the water is before we dive into it?). The priests had to plant the soles of their feet firmly in the river bed. You see to play the game you have to get on the field. To take the trip you have to pull out of the driveway. And to cross the Jordan, you have to get in it.
Imagine if every time you hit an obstacle in your walk of faith what might happen to your perspective if you approached it with an air of expectancy as Joshua did in verse 5. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” What if you pushed aside the fears and doubts that you have when confronted with obstacles and tackled those problems with this attitude, “Wow! Another problem! I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I know the Lord is going to help me overcome this. He really came through the last time. I can’t wait to see how He helps me out of this one!”
When How can you turn your view of obstacles into visions of opportunity? How can you see things the way Joshua did? Like Christopher who practiced countless hours before he set foot on the soccer field or a traveler who studies the directions to his/her destination, you can train yourself to meet obstacles by focusing on the basic skills of your faith and consecrating yourself. Now I don’t mean that you need to run home, take a bath and do the laundry as those ancient Israelites did when they consecrated themselves! But making the basic skills of your faith (Bible study, devotions, prayer time and fellowship) a priority in your life will consecrate you for "crossing the Jordan". They prepare you to look at obstacles from a different perspective and that perspective will help you through whatever challenges you may face. These tools help you to look at obstacles the way Joshua did- as an opportunity for God to do wonders in your midst. So keep this in mind when obstacles come your way: To play the game, you have to step on to the field. To take the journey, you have to pull out of the driveway. To cross the Jordan, you have to get in. It’s time to get ready, get set and GO!
Ann LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre