Read: Joshua 3:1-17
Reflect: I grew up always having to say the pre-meal perfunctory prayer “God is great…” and before going to sleep “Now I lay me down to sleep….” They were prayers that had a nice rhyme, like an advertisement jingle. Catchy phrases are great for selling hamburgers but they don’t necessarily make one closer to God. They aren’t the go-to for the middle of the night when fears and concerns wake one up and have taken occupation of one’s heart and soul.
In 1985 our family moved to Illinois so my husband could go to seminary. I felt like we had transitioned to a different planet. I found myself floundering in a place where we had no friends, no stable church home, no extended family and I struggled amidst all the change. I had never been more homesick in all my life. I didn’t know how to go forward and “Now I lay me down to sleep” just was not cutting it. What kind of spiritual life is expected to sustain you when you enter new territory in which the majority of norms have changed?
Which brings us to Joshua chapter 3. The Israelites were set to miraculously pass across the Jordan River to enter an unknown country full of enemies. The new country was promised to them by God and it was His gift to them, whether they wanted it or not. This was their command for when crossing the Jordan River, which was at flood stage: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. (Joshua 3:3-4) God was telling them that the only way through was to keep their focus on Him. That’s why as they crossed the Jordan River (which was at flood stage) they were ordered to keep looking at the Ark of the Covenant, the ornate, gold-plated wooden chest that in biblical times housed the two tablets of the Law given to Moses by God. The priests held up the Ark as the Israelites passed through the Jordan and every single person had to walk past it. It was the reminder that God was actually with them. It was the memorial that God was way more than a catchy good luck charm because He resided with them.
Remember my struggles in 1985? The reward for those struggles, amidst all the pain, was a prayer life that exponentially expanded from jingles into rich and deep conversations with God. There was nowhere else to turn. I began, out of desperation, to really focus on my relationship with God. I got in the habit of getting up at 5 AM and going for long walks when it was dark, crying out to God and asking for His guidance. This is when I truly learned to pray. I knew that God was there walking alongside of me, because “I had never been that way before”.
Apply: So, in all the pain you may currently be going through, are you consciously keeping your eyes on God with the expectation that He will direct you “since you have never been this way before”? This may involve life changes such as getting more information from God’s Word and less from the media. More time talking to God and less time complaining to others about what is happening. More actions carried out with the courage and wisdom of Jesus and less behaviors determined by your fears. This is not the time for cute jingle prayers, this is the time to move forward, deeper into the Christ Who “knows you have never been this way before”.
Jacqui Stoner is a committed Christ follower has a great love of people, passion for communicating, and she treasures creativity. She is a Christian Life Coach, helping women navigate transitions https://leaningforwardwithjoy.com/ As you can tell, life is never boring with Jacqui. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org