I remember so clearly the first time I saw the ocean. There I was, a little West Virginia mountain girl, on our family’s first beach vacation trip. We had driven from southern West Virginia down to South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach, where we stayed for one week. I don’t recall how old I was. I do know that I ran down to the sandy beach and was just awestruck by what I saw and heard. The ocean went on forever! And the noise of the waves was both intimidating and amazing.
I felt small in front of such unending power! And I definitely felt small when later, either on that trip or another family vacation to the beach, an undertow pulled me out into the water. I was terrified and helpless! And ever so thankful when my brother-in-law swam out to me and pulled me to shore!
I’ve never forgotten the power of that ocean. That experience gave me a healthy respect for deep water and the danger that it can carry.
I recently wrote about Israel’s deliverance by God from Egypt, and how God brought them to the brink of the Dead Sea. How terrified and angry they were as they stood there, helplessly, in front of this impossible situation! And God had LED them to it! Of course, we know that God also led them THROUGH it.
This morning I read in Joshua 3 about the children of Israel finally reaching the promised land of Israel. And sure enough, there in front of them lay another watery obstacle…..the Jordan River. And the Jordan wasn’t just any old small, crossable river at this time of year. Instead, God brought them to the Jordan during it’s annual flood stage. The river was a huge, raging torrent – very wide and full of masses of swirling vegetation underneath the impossible current.
We, once again, know the story. God gave instructions to Joshua and to the people about crossing the scary waters of the Jordan River. “By this you shall know that the living God is among you,” Joshua told the frightened people. “God WILL deliver the enemies from before you!”
So God instructed the Ark of the Covenant to go first, and for the people to follow. God going first. As soon as the priest’s feet hit the Jordan’s torrent, the waters parted and all the people crossed over on dry ground.
We sometimes wonder why God leads us the way He does. Why not just lead Israel around to the promised land on the “dry way?” Why does God seem to want to do things the hard way?
Well, if we never experienced the terrifying power of the waves in our lives, we would also never experience the redeeming power of our God. We all at times feel like the Psalmist in Psalm 93:
“The floods have risen up, O Lord. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. BUT mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore – the Lord above is mightier than these!”
As a child of God, you can know that God has a purpose for everything in your life…even the awful junk that seems so unfair and hurtful and wrong. Sometimes He allows some things to happen that we don’t understand…things that even make us question where He is, or why He let it happen.
We must cling to the fact that God is sovereign, even when we’re hurting and angry and doubting.
Look at Psalm 92:1-2:
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.”
So we wake up in the morning, thanking God for loving us. And at the end of the day, no matter what rivers and oceans we encounter, we can say that God is faithful. He is faithful to lead us, to keep us, and to eventually deliver us. He is faithful when we don’t feel it, see it, or understand it. We KNOW He is, and we at times have to cling to what we know even if it’s not what we feel.
Remember that God went first into the water and told Israel to follow. And likewise, God goes first before us into the turmoil that we face, leading our way and wanting us to trust and follow Him.
God is mightier than any raging waves of life that threaten to pull us under. Never doubt that for a minute!
Never doubt HIM for a minute!