Flood Stage

Meditation on Joshua 3 and 4, the Israelites crossing the Jordan

Think this with me:

I am an Israelite coming out of 40 years in the desert. I have eaten nothing but manna – for forty years. I have slept in a tent. I have woken up every morning and not known if I would sleep in the same place again that night. For forty – years.

But now I am in the Promised Land. I can see it! I look over the banks of the Jordan, and I see it. It is beautiful; forty years in the desert was a dream. When I enter it, I can build something solid, something permanent. I can grow something rooted to the earth and be there to harvest it. I can raise whole flocks of sheep and herds of cattle and not worry there will be too little grazing. I can feast on the abundance the land allows. It is beautiful; it was worth the wait!

There is only one problem: the Jordan is in flood stage, and I am on the wrong side.

This is a feeling I don’t have to imagine. My life is in flood stage, and I am on the wrong side. Emergencies and tragedies and problems and struggles fly down the course of my days, slamming one into another and pushing each other faster and faster along until white peaks form above and a powerful force rips everything along with it below. The water is icy cold; it comes from the melting snow high up in the mountains, melting because the winter is over, melting because it is finally that blessed, warm spring we could not wait for. And now it is in our way. In flood stage.

I look across it, and I am overwhelmed. I weep because I can see the Promised Land, but I do not have the power to cross into it. I weep because I am certain I will be destroyed if I try.

Let the ark of the covenant go before you.

I am an Israelite, and Joshua’s command is absurd. He says we will cross the Jordan on dry ground because God will stand the waters up in a heap, flood stage waters, and all we must do is follow. The ark of God’s covenant goes before us; all we must do is follow. It is ludicrous. But I obey it.

I look across my own life’s flood and I see I have been trying to cross a raging flood on my own, and that is absurd – truly, completely, fully absurd. I will wait for the sign that God will go before me; I will look for His ark, and I will follow it. I will walk across the flood on dry ground; I will see, a long way off, the waters stand up in a heap, and I will know I had nothing to do with it. The moment we are through it, when the covenant comes and closes the gap behind us, the flood will return. But we will be on the right side of it: the Promised Land.

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