When our children were small (during our beloved Oklahoma years), I had the joy (and sometimes angst!) of homeschooling them. Even though our “school” didn’t look like most classrooms, there was still plenty of structure in our day. At 8:00 am, we were dressed (no pajamas at “Warren Elementary!”), had eaten breakfast and were ready to begin the day. I wrote lesson plans using grade-appropriate curriculum that followed state standards, but as ours was a Christian school, the first part of our morning was gathering on the living room couch, Brett on one side, Kelsey on the other, and teacher-Mom in the middle to have morning devotions. We used a book called ,”Every Day With God” and it was actually Bible stories broken down into daily readings guided by the 52 weeks in a year. Though sometimes we mixed it up a bit, ordinarily I read the story, then Brett and Kelsey would take turns reading the short preface, the memory verse and the daily prayer. They both loved to read and I can still hear their expressive little voices. Such precious memories! And I honestly can’t tell you the last time I thought of those morning devotions. That is until today…..
I was straightening up things around my room when I picked up a few books (always seem to have some laying around) to put back in the bookshelf, when my eyes wandered across a shelf where I keep a variety of study materials and there, between Sheila Walsh and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as though it had been waiting patiently for me to notice, was “Every Day With God.” I picked it up and opened to today’s reading, and would like to share with you a bit of the story of Joshua, leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. =)
Joshua 3:7-8, 14-17
(After hearing the spies’ report, Joshua was ready to lead Israel in to Canaan. As they came to the edge of the Jordan River, once again God showed his great power in an unusual way.)
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great man to all the Israelites. So the people will know I am with you just as I was with Moses. The priests will carry the Box of Agreement. Tell them this: ‘Go to the edge of the Jordan River and stand in the water.” So the priests carried the Box of the Agreement. And the people left the place where they had camped. Then they started across the Jordan River. During harvest the Jordan is flooded. So the river was at its fullest. The priests who were carrying the Holy Box came to the edge of the river. And they stepped into the water. Just at that moment, the water stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap a great distance away at Adam. This is a town near Zarethan. The water flowing down to the Sea of Arabah (The Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed the river near Jericho. The ground there became dry. The priests carried the Box of Agreement with the Lord to the middle of the river and stopped. They waited there while all the people of Israel walked across. They crossed the Jordan River on day land.
Memory Verse: “Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. So don’t be afraid. The Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.” Joshua 1:9
Today’s Prayer: Almighty God, help me to have faith in you as Joshua did. I pray that, like Joshua, I may always trust your word and obey your commands. In the name of Jesus my Savior I pray, amen.
The reason I wanted to share this simple story tonight (other than it brought back sweet memories) is something I noticed as I read…..
God told Joshua to have the priests go to the river and stand in the water. Doesn’t that seem odd? The Jordan River was at flood-stage and they must have been terrified of being swept away with the current. There was no way they could swim across, especially the priests who were carrying the “Holy Box” that represented God among them. But they had been promised this land, and after many years of delay, God had told them it was time. So, whether it made sense or not to actually step into a raging river with no apparent way across, they bravely stepped out anyway. And it was only then that the water stopped flowing and the ground became dry. God had asked them to do the impossible, and because they trusted Him, they not only entered the promised land, but witnessed an incredible miracle that we still read about today.
I have to admit… I haven’t been feeling very brave lately. So many losses have left me a little skittish and intently staying close to home. My former busy-every-night-of-the-week life seems like it belonged to another person long ago. But I can’t help but wonder if God wanted me to find Joshua and the Israelites as they were about to cross into the Promised Land for a reason….
I know that faith requires more than thinking and feeling….it also requires response. God could have given different instructions that would have led them to the edge of the water, then stopped the river and I’m sure it would have been just as spectacular, but God isn’t interested in just putting on a miracle show. God wanted their participation – for them to be “all in” (literally) – so they could not just observe the miracle, but be part of it.
How can it possibly be that the Creator of the Universe would desire anything from me? But He does…..oh how He does! He wants to be as near to us as our very breath, and to trust Him in all things, even when they don’t make sense. Especially when they don’t make sense.
I want to be brave again…..and tonight I feel like there’s hope, because I don’t have to stop the river by myself – that’s God’s job. I just have to get in the water. =)