“The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.” So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance…”  Joshua 3:13-16

When you have a big task ahead of you, getting started is the toughest part. The key is not to get stuck dwelling on the size and vagueness of your goal. The prudent thing to do is start small. Determine one small step you can do today to get things moving, then do it. In Joshua 3 we read the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River that illustrates this point.  

For months, weeks, and days they waited, and then finally, the day arrived. Can you imagine the anticipation and excitement the children of Israel faced as they stood before the River Jordan the evening before they were to cross over into the land? They have finally come to the entry point of the promised land. But what do they see? A river in flood stage, overflowing its banks. There is no low water crossing in sight. They cannot go around it. There are no bridges. They cannot go over it. The way is blocked. The river is impassable. This is neither a good time nor a good place to cross. God has chosen and brought Israel to this time and place even as God chooses and brings us to the time and place for our river crossings. The only way across the river is through the river. But to do that requires God’s help. 

“But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.” (Joshua 3: 15-16)

We will experience a Jordan River crossing sometime in our lives. It could be we are standing on the edge of a large river at this moment. The only way to the promised land is through the waters of the river. How deep is it? How strong is the current?  How far across is the river? What will I find on the other side?  These are the type of questions we all have when we face challenges and trials in our life or when God asks us to do something out of our comfort zone. But, I want you to note something in this story: God did not hold back the water for Israel before they put their feet in. It is only after they stepped into the water that God acted.

We all have that one step, that first step, that needs to be taken to get us started. Take that first step and you have given God something to work with. What is that first step for you? Maybe it is to heed God’s command. Maybe it is to offer another forgiveness and reconciliation. Maybe your one step is to let go of anger or resentment. Whatever that step, it can lead you across the swollen rivers in your life.

Discussion questions:

  1. God seems adept at putting His people’s feet on “dry ground.” When has God ever put your feet on “dry ground?” When has God made a way for you when there seemed to be no way?