That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.’ So Joshua commanded the priests, ‘Come up out of the Jordan.’ And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran in flood as before. On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God
Joshua 4 14-24
This is the season when the Jordan floods. Suppose the flood had returned before they crossed over? It took courage to step out into the Jordan, and even more courage to gather up the stones – filling your pockets with stones is to invite death, not freedom. “What mean these stones?” They mean danger.
Stepping into the unknown; it takes courage and sometimes desperation to cross over the flood, and many don’t make it, whether it is Jordan or the Aegean, Canaan or Syria. It is an act of faith which others will see as folly.
Lent is not about passive penitence. it is about faithful courage and a willingness to change your life and put it into the hands of the God-with-us: Immanuel. And to carry a cross instead of stones.
Prayer: “Balm to the ears, soul and spirit”
Deep river, my home is over Jordan,
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
Peter Moth is an active retired URC minister
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