“Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan” Joshua 3:16-17.
I have always loved the story of Joshua and the Israelites crossing over into Jericho. The people were commanded that when they follow the Ark of the Covenant carried by the priests they would cross over into their Promised Land. They were to keep their eyes on the Ark, the dwelling place of God, and follow in the steps led by Yahweh. I am sure it was exciting to be one of the sojourners walking on dry ground with the water ‘heaped up’ on both sides. The walls of liquid must have been so high on each side that they couldn’t see anything to the left or to the right. As they stepped from the riverbed to the bank it must have been overwhelming to realize that they were exactly where God had orchestrated for them to be – the place where God had promised and purposed for them. Did they look at each other wide-eyed with smiles stretched broadly across their faces? Did the little children run up ahead and taste the fruit from the land? What did that initial excitement look like? Did they realize that crossing into the land was going to be much easier than defending it?
This is not just a story to be read but a reality for to be considered. This is a story that you and I can cross over into with our own sandals. When God formed each of us we were created with a purpose and a promised land. We entered this world with a temporal promised land…God’s purpose for us on earth…and a heavenly promised land at the end of our lives. When we surrender the fleshly things of this world God will provide a path for us to walk in the Spirit. When we reach the banks of our own promised lands we must protect what we have been given. We must be watchful and alert so that our old sins and weaknesses will not find us. We cannot continue to allow ambushes of the flesh to overtake our newly attained spiritual land. ‘The point is not just getting us into our proverbial lands of promise where we bear much fruit. The point is developing the spiritual muscle on our way so once we receive it, we are strong enough to keep it. The hardest part of possessing the land is defending it. A person has hardly begun to have a real fight on her hands until she starts serving in her full-throttle giftedness and effectiveness. She who proves a threat earns an enemy.’ James, p. 164.