“14So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 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, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.’”
The people who accompanied Joshua in conquering the Promised Land was not the same that had bothered Moses so much during 40 years in the wilderness. That generation, according to the Word of the Lord, was wicked and without faith (Numbers 14:35).
This new people had learned the hard way the importance of obeying Yahweh’s commandments. Nevertheless, the challenge that the Lord posed to them was not without risk, as it is today with any faith adventure. The Lord instructed Joshua to have the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant and cross the river. They were told that the river would stop flowing before them, allowing all the people to cross. However, the priests had to get into the water, wetting their feet before the miracle could take place.
I would love to “freeze” this image in the exact instant when the water reached the ankles. This instant precedes God’s intervention. This is where we are prone to abandon our project. In that instant, doubts assail us and fear takes hold of our hearts. God had promised to open the waters. We are already in the river and nothing has happened yet! If we move forward, we will have to swim. Did we understand correctly what we were told? What experiences can help strengthen our faith? Only Joshua and Caleb had seen the waters open to make a way for the chosen people.
Everyone likes how the story ends, when the people are already on the other side of the river. We desire to be with those who joyfully celebrate the intervention of the Most High.
Few of us, however, are willing to get our feet wet, to plunge into the Lord’s seemingly absurd plans when the element of risk is at its highest. This stage of the adventure is the one that most troubles the disciple. He or she may be ridiculed by others. Here is the difference in the life of the committed follower of Jesus. They do not waver in what God has entrusted to them. Possessed by the same courage that Joshua had, they do not pay attention to the discouraging voices that come up in their hearts. They know Whom they trust. The uncomfortable moment will pass and they will be counted among those who celebrate the victory granted by the Lord.
Food for thought:
Courage does not mean an absence of fear, but the proper management of fear!