Encountering Obstacles on the Way
It's safe to assume that everyone reading this column
has faced some type of obstacle this week. It’s almost a given
that life is going to throw things
into our path that seek to deter us from getting
accomplished what we need to get done.
We are not the first people to experience this.
Joshua 3 looks at how God’s children dealt
with an obstacle that was
in their way
as they tried to
move towards the Promised Land.
At this point in the Book of Joshua, God’s children are
camped on one side of the Jordan River
and Joshua told them that
God wanted them to cross over to the
This act of crossing the Jordan River
would be the literal first step into the
But there was a problem. The river was flooded and nearly
impossible to cross.
For them to enter the Promised Land,
they would have to trust God to bring them
through this raging river.
This would take faith that remembered
who it was
that was telling them to cross the river in
the first place
As the people contemplated God’s instructions,
they faced the challenge of whether they would be able
to remember all the history that God had secured of providing
for their parents and grandparents and helping them
overcome multiple obstacles.
Would they be willing and able to
step out on faith and trust that God was
as they faced this latest obstacle?
We know how this part of the story ends.
carry the Ark of the Covenant
to the river
while the people follow behind them.
When the priests begin to walk into the river,
the waters stop flowing.
The Hebrew scriptures tell us that upstream,
something had occurred which caused the waters
to stop flowing right around the time
the priest stepped into the river.
No one could have predicted that, but
God was true to God’s word
and made it possible
for them to cross the river on dry ground.
As I think about this chapter in Israel’s journey,
a few things come to mind.
First, we all have obstacles that we face in life as we
seek to live in and out our relationship with God.
It is okay to recognize that life, especially a life
that seeks to be pleasing to God, is never easy.
We regularly face distraction and temptation to do things
contrary to God’s will.
Second, uncertainty is not always a terrible thing,
especially as it relates to
following God and seeking to do God’s will.
Neither Joshua nor the people had
how God would make it possible for them to
cross the river.
But, God did not ask them to have the plan figured out beforehand.
God already had it figured out
in the form
of a natural action of nature.
What God wanted from all of them
was trust that
God would be as good as God’s promises.
Third, if we follow God,
or make God the focus of our journey,
God will lead us through the challenges and
try to divert us from the Promised Land.
I think we can all admit that sometimes, when we are experiencing challenges of life, we may seek to be in God’s presence,
but our focus is not fully on God,
but on whatever challenge it is that we face.
That’s understandable, but when we recognize that is what’s happening,
we can be like Joshua and the people and
make God our focus and his call our
as much as possible.