Wouldn't it be lovely if God provided detailed, individualized maps for our spiritual journeys?
I want to know an approximate arrival time.
I want to anticipate detours and delays.
I don't like surprises, and I don't like not knowing.
Knowing what to expect helps me to feel safe.
And so I gather as much information as possible for every situation, I create alternative scenarios, and I problem solve for each one.
And then I move forward.
Fact-finding and problem-solving are useful skills, and I truly do believe God gave me these abilities.
Moses sent the spies into the Promised Land to get a good sense of what the people would be walking into. Joshua did the same thing.
Once the fact-finding is done, however, they still had to step forward, not knowing what would happen next, and they had to trust God to do what they couldn't do, to see what they couldn't see.
Case in point. The Jordan River.
In order to obey God, to move into the Promised Land, they need to get from one side of the river to the other. Except for Joshua and Caleb, none of these people were around when God parted the Red Sea. I expect they had heard stories, but hearing stories is not the same as experiencing God's power firsthand.
To complicate the matter, the river is at flood level. There's no way they can get across without God's help.
I try to picture what it's like to stand at the side of the river, wondering what will happen next.
Maybe Joshua will raise his staff over the water, and God will part the waters so they can walk safely across. God's done it before. At lease that's what people say.
Will they wait until the waters subside? Will God abandon them at the banks? Will they walk in and drown?
God does a new thing. The priests carrying the ark step into the river, and as soon as their feet touch the water, the waters rise up in a heap, and every single person, every single animal, walks across dry ground.
I'm trying to get my head around this concept of obedience, of moving forward toward God's calling, when I don't really understand where I'm going or what's going to happen next. I'm trying to understand how God's going to work things out, and honestly I don't have any answers.
Right now I feel like I'm standing at the bank of the river. I might be able to make it across if it weren't flood season, but there's no way I can progress without God. I am wondering if God is going to abandon me on the edge, wondering how long I need to wait, whether or not I'm going to drown when I step into the water.
God is faithful. I know he is. I've been here before.
I don't really believe I'll drown, but I just don't see how I can get from one side of the river to the other.
At some point, God's going to say, "Put your foot in." And then I'll need to step forward.
Once the people get to the other side, Joshua instructed them to build a memorial, twelve stones, one from each tribe, so that they can remember what God did.
When God delivers us, when he does what seems impossible, we need to take great pains to remember exactly how he did it. That way, when we get to the next flooded river, we'll have courage to step across when he tells us to put our foot in.