August 11, 2011
Memorial of Saint Clare, virgin
Jos 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17
The LORD said to Joshua,
"Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters."
So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
"Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank."
The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.
>>>>>>> >>>>> + <<<<<<< <<<<<
“All Israel crossed over on dry ground.”(Joshua 3:17)
Imagine you’re about to cross the river Jordan.
You take one very careful and delicate step into the riverbed.
Now two steps. Now three.
The ominous looking gush of water is still being held at bay, and you’re still dry!
Ahead of you are the priests with the Ark of the Covenant— and they’re still dry!
Your nerves gradually uncoil, and you marvel as you walk farther into the now exposed riverbed.
Today’s reading tells us that in order to get across the Jordan and into the Promised Land, the Hebrews had to pass beside the Ark of the Covenant, which was stationed right in the middle of the riverbed.
The Ark was the sign of God’s presence.
It was a reminder of God’s promises to their nation. So crossing the river, even taking the first step, was an act of faith in God’s covenant. Any personal, inner doubts about whether God really could be trusted had to be brought to the surface and dealt with if they wanted to enter the Promised Land.
Would the waters hold?
Or will God forget and let me drown?
What a fitting image for the call to faith!
To use Paul’s words, as long as we are “at home in the body” we are away from our Promised Land of heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6).
As long as we keep our eyes fixed on this world and not his faithfulness, we risk being drowned in the anxieties and temptations of this life.
Life can feel like a wilderness sometimes!
But we have an ever present reminder of the faithfulness and loving care of God—Jesus himself. When we sense God calling us to step out into the Jordan River of faith, we just have to look to Jesus, the source of our strength. Our inner doubts and fears may surface, but as we let Jesus calm them in prayer, we’ll find the courage to take a few careful steps in the direction he’s leading. Our faith in him, combined with his faithfulness to us, will see us through.
The world doesn’t have to swallow us up!
Keep looking to Jesus and you can cross any river—no matter how fiercely it rages!
“Jesus, you are the Author and Finisher of my faith. I trust in you.” http://wau.org/meditations/current/