(This is Part 4 of a 10-part series exploring leadership lessons from the book of Joshua in the Bible. I wrote this with men in mind, but the leadership principles discussed are, of course, transferrable to women, as well.)
In-between where the Israelites were and where God wanted them to be was a huge obstacle: the Jordan River. It was the harvest season and the river was overflowing its banks (Joshua 3:15) which meant that it was even deeper and wider than usual. It was too deep to cross on foot. There were no bridges or boats. No way to move hundreds of thousands of people across. All of these years of wandering in the desert dreaming of the Promised Land and all that stood between them and their destiny was a stupid river. How would they get across? What’s the plan, Joshua?
“In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” And so they started out and went ahead of the people. The Lord told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”” (Joshua 3:6–8)
Um… Okay… But how will we get across?
Well, let me tell you.
“Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”” (Joshua 3:11–13)
That’s the plan?
That’s the plan. Go and stand in the river and expect something to happen that has never happened before.
Notice that the Ark of the Covenant (God’s Word) is what will lead them to where God wants them to go. When God’s Word is your guide, you can be strong and courageous!
“So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.” (Joshua 3:14–16)
When did God stop the river? Before they got there? No. It wasn’t until the leaders got their feet wet that the water stopped and the people were able to safely cross to the Promised Land.
We need to understand that there are going to be obstacles in the way. Just because God is with us doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing. In fact, if we are on mission with God, it’s NOT going to be smooth sailing. But we can’t just stand on the shore and look across longingly thinking, “It would be so sweet to be there, but there’s this obstacle in the way.” How will we ever get through it? And we can suffer from “paralysis of analysis” trying to devise a plan or a strategy to overcome the obstacle. And the longer we analyze, the less likely we are to actually do something.
God says, “Step into the water.”
Our job is to trust God; to be strong and courageous. His job is to bring the blessing for our obedience; to provide a way through, over, under, or around whatever obstacles stand in the way of us getting to where He wants us to go.
Where in your life right now do you need to trust God and step into the water?