And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people…” Joshua 3:6-14
We don’t know if Moses clued Joshua in on what would happen when they crossed the Jordan. I’m pretty certain the people Joshua would lead didn’t know anything, except what they were told, which doesn’t appear to be much. It also seems they were quick to forget what they were told.
In this passage, it seems what they were told related to the ark and the Levites carrying it. It’s possible they knew a struggle was coming as they entered the land God had promised. They also knew the land would be ‘fat’ with food and drink, described as ‘flowing with milk and honey.’
Struggles in life come and go. We move from one to the next, knowing little to nothing about what we’re going to experience. These struggles go from being something simple like a scratched knee or elbow to hearing someone you love describe their rejection of God and his Son. The hard things feel like those crashing waves we experience on the beach when we turn our back on the ocean. One moment, we’re taking in the sensory experiences of the beach and the next we’re being thrown underwater and tossed in a tumult.
Stepping into life is such an adventure! I had no idea what I would experience when I married my wife, Christel. There were times one or both of us couldn’t catch our breath due to the ‘waves’ and their churning. Others were glorious mountaintop experiences like holding a newly-born daughter in your arms, whispering words of love to them, dreaming their future.
Despite our lack of foreknowledge of these adventures, there’s one thing we can be certain of, and it echoes the words given to Joshua by God in Joshua 1:9. God will be with us. We’re not alone! If you’re like me, when those life struggles come along leaving you gasping for breath, recall God’s presence as that strong arm lifting you out of the waves. As you consider these thoughts, listening to “Christ be all around me,” remember God is present whether you feel him or not!
By Rich Obrecht