I’ve come back from vacation a couple of weeks ago, and it’s taken me a while to get used to having to work on a daily basis. I think we all suffer a little bit of vacation-withdrawal when we come back. I was vacationing down in Arizona in some warm weather. I spent nearly every day swimming in the pool, lounging in shorts and tee’s, and every night going for bike rides, playing bocce ball, and enjoying the hot tub. Then I come back home to winter coats, boots, and scarves…
I love the water. I love swimming, I love sitting in it, I love cooling off, I love scuba diving, I love being on a boat, but I can’t swim. Now let me clarify, I can swim pretty well. I can go from point A to point B, but I can’t stop. I can’t tread water. I just can’t seem to float. Believe me, I’ve tried. My girlfriend has tried to teach me. I’ve laid back in the water, outstretched my arms, stuck out my belly button, and nothing. My feet just sink to the bottom, and the rest of me follows shortly after. So while I love the water, I can’t do deep waters. (I know what you’re thinking, if you don’t like deep water how can you boat or scuba dive?! Life jackets my friend. Life jackets.) I found myself really relating to the struggle of the Israelites in Joshua 3.
This is the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. The Israelites have long awaited this day. They’ve spent 400 years in Egyptian captivity, 40 years wandering the desert, and now they are finally going to be entering the land of Canaan across the Jordan river, the land promised to them hundreds of years ago through their forefather Abraham.
Choose Your Purpose
“5Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.'” He says “holify yourselves” or “sanctify yourselves.” The Hebrew word here means to “cause oneself to be set apart for God”, “to separate oneself.” Joshua tells them to remove themselves from all influence that isn’t from God. Push away everything else that distracts you from God’s purpose in your life, and dedicate yourself to God. Joshua understand that the only way for God to use us, is if we allow ourselves to be used by God.
Choose for yourself whether or not you want God’s purposes for your life. God will never force us to be part of a miracle. He’ll never force us to be blessed. He’ll never force us to accept His plans, or purposes, and He’ll never force us to love Him. Everything with God will always be a choice, but If we want those miracles in our lives, and those life-changing moments, then we must choose God’s purpose for our lives. We have to consecrate ourselves, expectant in faith that tomorrow God is going to work tremendous wonders among us. What God is going to do in your life isn’t always certain, but what is certain is that He’s going to do something in your life!
Get Your Feet Wet
“6Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people…13And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.'” God’s command to the Israelites is “Get Your Feet Wet.” God tells the Israelite priests to step into the river first before He stops it from flowing. The problem with that is that we learn in verse 15 that the Jordan river was in its flood stage at that time. When the Jordan River is at flood stage its stats change significantly. It can get anywhere from half a mile to a mile in width, and anywhere from 4ft-200ft in depth. The river is home to 27 rapids, and during flood stages flows so fast it becomes completely un-swimmable.
The problem most of us face in our lives when God asks us to do something like this is that we want God to go first! We don’t want to get our feet wet. But it’s often our unwillingness to take a step of faith and get our feet wet that keeps us from experiencing a miracle. “Some people spend their entire lives on the eastern shore of the Jordan waiting for God to part the river while God waits for them to get their feet wet” (The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson). God asks us to step out first in faith, before the waters are divided. God wants us to be a part of the miracle He has for us, but we have to be willing to step out first.
Prayer isn’t to have whatever we want given to us, but instead prayer is to glorify God for working in our lives in ways we were incapable of working. Prayer is an opportunity to give God the glory for the victory you didn’t have the strength to win. Prayer is an opportunity to give God the glory for the miracle you didn’t have the power to bring about. What I’ve learnt that in my life, prayer isn’t about petitioning God to act in ways He wouldn’t have acted had we not prayed. My prayers aren’t about forcing God to move. Prayers have become opportunities for me to be involved in the miracle God is already working in my life. Prayer is the act of getting your feet wet, and stepping out into the river before the waters stops, and physical being a part of the miracle God is going to perform in your life!
What’s amazing about this story is what we read in verse 15 and 16, 15Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…so the people crossed over opposite Jericho. God commanded them to go in first and get their feet wet, but when they took that step of faith, they didn’t even need to get wet at all! Before they touched the water, when their feet reached the edge of the water the Jordan stopped flowing.
Sometimes we get a command from God to get our feet wet, and we stand frozen at the edge of the river, worried about the flow. “God, it’s too fast; God, it’s too wide; God, it’s too deep; God, it’s too difficult; God, I can’t do it; God, I’m so worried!” We’re worried about a million scenarios that we play in our head that haven’t even taken place! We let our the fear in our imagination stop us from taking steps in faith.
Time Under Tension
There’s this workout principle called “time under tension.” It’s the not-so-secret secret to building stronger and more toned muscles in shorts amount of time. Time under tension is not about lifting as heavy as you can as quickly as you can. It’s about lifting slowly, creating as much time under tension for your muscles to develop. It’s when our muscles are strained that they’re actually working.
We often want God to do the heavy faith-lifting for us, but it’s not God who needs to strengthen His faith, it’s us! God could easily just do all the work for us. He could easily just speak anything we asked for into existence, but if He were to do that, He would strip us of the opportunity to partner with Him in faith. I know it’s never pleasant though to experience this time under tension in faith. It’s never an easy thing or a pleasant thing to have to wait for your miracles to happen. It isn’t easy to have to continuously pray for years and not see results yet. But Joshua 3:17 says, “The Priests who carried the Ark of The Covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”The Ark of The Covenant and the Priests remained in the middle of the river until everyone had crossed over.
You may be experiencing some time under tension but when you’re going through it you can be sure that God is right there with you. God isn’t indifferent to your sufferings, your challenges, or your difficulties. He’s right there in the middle of it, going through it with you. He may ask us to Get Our Feet Wet, and to go through Time Under Tension, but He never asks us to go without Him. He goes before us first, stays right in the middle through it, and only steps out until we’ve all made it past. Time under tension produces strong muscles, and time under trials produces strong faith.
Set Up Your Stones
When the Israelites finished crossing over, God commands them in chapter 4, “before the water begins flowing again, each tribe leader is to grab a stone to set up as a monument to remind you and future generations of the miracle I did for you here today.” What’s so great about this is that we read a few times in later books of the Bible that these monuments at Gilgal serve to remind future generations of Israelites to turn back to God and inspire them to renew their faith.
Set up reminders and monuments in your life to remind you in your future trials and challenges, of the amazing things God has done in your life. This is something fun to do, grab either a rock, or write on a personal chalkboard or white board, and write down something you want god to do for your life. Something you’re praying about. Something He hasn’t done for you yet. Keep it somewhere visible, somewhere you’ll see it regularly, and let it be a monument in your life, an act of praise through, reminding you that God has already given you the victory; that while your answer isn’t here yet, you trust in faith that it’s just around the corner.
Lord I want to choose your purpose for my life. Help me to weed out and remove anything in my life that negatively impacts my connection with you. Help me to consecrate myself for your purpose and prepare me for the amazing wonders you want to perform for me in my life. Help me to have the faith to step out into the river while it’s still yet running. Give me the faith to get my feet wet even when the odds and my challenges seem too great for me. Help me to feel your presence when I am going through my time under trials. May I realize that it is in the trials that my faith is strengthened. Help me to set up monuments in my life to remind me of your love towards for all that you’ve done, and to set up monuments as a testament to the wonders I know in faith you will do. Amen.