October 12

Sometimes God Does it One Way, and Sometimes Another

Exodus 14:21-22 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back…and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Joshua 3:13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD…shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”

We all love the Exodus story. It’s full of drama, retribution on the wicked, wondrous miracles, and blessed freedom. It also contains the dynamic image of Moses stretching out his hand, the sea pulling back into walls, and inviting dry land spreading out before a people more than happy to flee to safety.

Yet there is another, similar story of a river crossing not all that long after the Exodus. It involves Joshua, Moses’ successor, taking the children of Israel across the Jordan to begin the conquest of the Promised Land. It contains many of the same elements as the earlier story—God’s chosen leader, a victorious crossing—but with one significant difference. Instead of a leader making a clear, miraculous way, we have a different instruction from God: the priests were to walk up to the shoreline and begin to walk. Then the waters would part.

Most of us prefer the first scenario. We’re happy when God moves to open a clear path for us to walk through. We can see that kind of a path, and our direction is clear. Most of us are less comfortable with the idea of starting to walk down an impossible and impassible walkway, with the promise that things will open up as we move in faith. Yet this is clearly another method of God’s getting us from A to B.

In both scenarios, God’s people had His clear instruction to move. This is always our starting point, too. God’s people also had His clear instruction on how to move. The priests of Joshua 3 were told specifically what would happen when they took that first step into the water.

We have all enjoyed walking down a path cleared by God, especially when the clearing is so evidently His work. Yet we are also sometimes told to begin to walk down a path, with no evidence of what will happen when we do.

Is there a river you need to cross in your life? If you have looked and can’t see the dry pathway, God may have another way. But even if the path isn’t clear, we aren’t to stop seeking Him and looking for a way to walk forward in faith. Perhaps our “soles in the water” are our prayers, our actively waiting on God (not for, but on), or simply standing in faith over time. But let’s continually get near that river, ready to cross, as one day, He’ll tell us to begin to step in, and we want to be as close to the shore as possible when that word comes.

Prayer: Father, I admit I prefer the clear and evident pathway over the promised one. But please show me how to walk in faith toward the rivers You want me to cross. Help me to be actively walking in faith so that I am moving forward in the Spirit even when I’m not sure exactly where I’m going.

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