Standing in Calf-Deep Water

I woke up this morning with the feeling of standing calf-deep in water.  It was a weird feeling, scary, calming, hard, peaceful, a sense of work ahead (hard to describe).  And the thought “the middle is hard, all you have to do is stand firm” came to mind.  I’ve not posted much on Glory Abides this week, but I’ve been hammering out an outline of the book of Joshua (it’s long!).  It was feeling like a long road was ahead, the beginning excitement was fading and I was in the rhythm of writing and studying but feeling the drudge begin.  Don’t misunderstand, I am loving Joshua and learning so much; but, I was feeling like this could drag out for years!  And there is so much!  And a “deadline” of sorts had come to mind! So, I felt like I needed to do an outline.  That way, if a portion of scripture starts speaking to me I can go there.  My list making, everything in order, “we’re not there, not yet!” mentality can be satisfied because there is a plan and someplace to plug in the “randomness” that pops up.  I hope this makes sense.

It’s been really interesting to see themes come up.  Boundaries.  There are a LOT of boundaries drawn in Joshua. 

Anyways, back to my morning…standing in calf-deep water and that thought that the middle is hard. 

The middle is SO hard!  This is something my MomPat has talked about before, how the middle is so hard.  The middle of a college semester, when your just grinding it out.  The middle of a book (sometimes).  The middle of summer, when its So hot and there is no rain.  The middle of winter, when spring seems so far away. The middle of a divorce.  The middle of an addiction.  The middle.  Your not at the exciting beginning, and your not at the end with closure; your in IT, the messy middle. 

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Several weeks ago I spent the morning visiting with a girlfriend, and we talked about how the middle is sometimes so hard when things are changing and you don’t know or you in the middle of something and you just have to keep going.  I had started to read a book called Rising Strong by Brené Brown and that evening after our visit, turned the page to find this on page 12, “The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.”  WHAT!  That’s exactly what we were talking about.  Yes!  The middle is hard and messy, but it’s where all the good stuff is.  Although not always seen, especially when we’re knee deep in muck.


And for the record, I picked up the book today in order to revisit that page and the adjoining page starts Chapter 2 and says “Civilization stops at the waterline.”   Appropriate?  I think so.  And, there are no accidents.  How true on so many levels.

So, I’m standing calf-deep in this Jordan river with Joshua.  It’s hard!  It’s beautiful!  It’s messy! 

Somedays I think it’s time to take the easy and known, safe, road.  But then I take another step into the water. Keep going.  Keep taking one more step, trusting in the Lord.  The road will have some potholes because the middle is messy.  But God’s beauty, blessing and abundance is everywhere.

I wrote this in one of my notebooks (I have 4 going right now.  Hello, my name is Amy and I have an addiction to notebooks.)  “Circle the vision (Jericho) with prayer.  It’s like the foothold of the Promised Land.  They circled Jericho, but is was just the beginning.  And God handed it over BEFORE they started circling.  That dream within was there before I started circling, planted as a seed before the ground was ready.  He prepared it ahead of time.  Its the scarification of time and weather that prepares the seed.  Then, the weather warms.  The Light shines longer and brighter.  The Holy Spirit waters.  And when the time is just right, that seed begins to grow.  That new creation is circled in hopeful prayer of what is coming.  There WILL be fruit.  There will be dreams fulfilled for His glory.”

That seed is sprouting, the ground is being cultivated.  It’s been the weather of life that does the scarification (scratching and wounding) in order for this seed to germinate.  The hard stuff.  The middles have been pretty messy at times, because that’s part of having this human experience.  It’s the disappointments.  Mistakes and circumstances that teach us. The relationships that come and go at just the right time, even when we don’t understand in the moment.  The cold lonely moments, the warm fun of the sunshine.  It’s the love we feel from others, and God.  Life. 

I’m grateful for the scarification, even when it hurts.  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness having its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Well, I’m in the middle.  It’s hard and a little messy right now.  But there is magic and beauty all around.  The civilization of man stops at the shore line and the beauty of the Lord engulfs me as I take steps into the water.  And then “…you shall stand still in the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:8) We are to take the steps into the water, and “The waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away….and those flowing down…were completely cut off.” (Joshua 3:14-17)  It’s amazing.

It’s a beautiful picture of being an active participant in God’s creation and the sprouting of that seed which is placed within us.  The humility of allowing God to lead while you take steps, sometimes with eyes closed in uncertainty.  Take the step, let the Holy Spirit guide and water that seed.  Jesus is there, hand outstretched, ready for you to walk one step at a time.  Sometimes it’s hard to simply stand there.  But, we must be still and know, with each step.  Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s somewhere in the middle where the beauty exists.  He dries up the ground and we can stand firmly, on dry ground.

Melting Hearts

This phrase “melt away” kept sticking out while reading Joshua.  Hearts were melting, people were melting.  What exactly does this mean?  Is there any significance here? (Focusing Joshua 2:1-24)

vs. 9 “…and all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.”

vs. 11 “…And as soon as we heard, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit life in any man…”

vs. 24 “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands.  And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

Verses 9 & 24 use the same Hebrew word mûg (moog ; H4127) which is to melt, literally (flow down, disappear, to soften); figuratively (to fear, faint) : – consume, dissolve, faint-hearted) make soft

Verse 11 uses a different Hebrew words from verses 9&24.  This Hebrew word is mâsas  (maw-sas’ ; H4549) which is to liquefy; figuratively to waste (with disease) to faint, be loosed, melt (away).

I think it interesting that in our English language this word melt means something similar, but slightly different in Hebrew.  The “melt” in verses 9 & 24 are referring to the people who have melted, or softened, before them as they are claiming their promised land.  The inhabitants are melting away before them.  It’s God doing the melting and softening, just as he said he would do as the Israelites proceeded. 

However, in verse 11 it’s the people within the city of Jericho and probably surrounding areas that melted their own heart.  To waste with disease.  I’m sure that God was at work in their hearts too, preparing them for the Israelites to come in and take over their city.  They knew of God, but they didn’t know the God who gives strength to His children. 

I know this was all part of God’s plan, but this discouragement!  It was probably very intimidating to know that the Israelites were on their way.  They new the God of heaven and earth was with them, and their hearts melted at their impending destruction.  My heart would probably “melt” too! 

What about us? Today?  Knowing Jesus has conquered death, forgiven us, desires relationship with us and provides us a never-ending supply of strength and grace for each day.  And sometimes, my heart still melts.  It’s the melting in verse 11; the melting of my own doing.  The part of the definition that says “to waste with disease” is so powerful.  When my heart is melted, it’s wasting as though infected with a disease.  It’s wasting with doubts, false tapes or ideas from the Accuser. I waste in a state of being locked up by insecurities, uncertainty of the unknown or something new.  Paralyzed.  My heart melts when I receive bad news, and I go weak in the knees from fear or grief. 

The thing is, our hearts will melt.  When that grief is paralyzing, the next step is scary, or the desire to run when you need to sit and wait.  However, we have a Savior to lean on for the strength needed so that our melted heart doesn’t stay in a puddle on the floor and fester into a disease.  There are promises to lean on and have faith in.  We’re not immune to a melted heart, but we’ve got a Healer that’s already taken care of it all. And as followers of Jesus, we are called to live in that space of hope, joy and healing.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “So we do not lose heart.  Though our other self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we loo not to the things that are seen but the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”   

heart_Phil_4_13And when I have a heart-melting moment of weakness, Philippians 4:13 reminds me that “I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me.” It will be because of His strength, and not my own, that my heart-melting moments become strengthening moments.

Or when my heart is melting in worry and fear, 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds that “..for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Because we are daughters of the King!  And we know our big brother, Jesus.  He will hold us up in our weakness, so that we may continue to press forward being bold and courageous.  He goes before us and hems us in and gives us power through the Holy Spirit within.

Rahab

Reading :: Joshua 2:1-24

Don’t you wonder how how Rahab got hooked up with the two spies sent out by Joshua?  My guess is that it was something like a “coincidence”, aka divine appointment.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall of Jericho!  What ever it was that brought these two spies and Rahab together, Rahab was given a roll in the greatest story of all time.  The story of Jesus our Savior.  She would be part of the rescue story, not just the rescue of her immediate family but part of Jesus’ family tree.  What a story.

I’m guessing that Rahab personally believed that the Israelites’ God, was the God of heaven and earth, based on her words in Joshua 2:11.  She held a belief and healthy fear of God.  Rahab was also putting a lot of faith in the two Israelite spies who were hiding on her roof.  She did exactly as she promised and acted on her faith.  James 2:25-26 says “And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”  This isn’t putting works above faith, but Rahab held a belief in God and acted on that belief when prompted.  She I think she must have listened and obeyed!

Whatever the case, Rahab played a roll in Jericho and the people coming into the Promised Land for their inheritance.  She also played a roll in my inheritance, being that Jesus is our Inheritance and our true Promised Land.  I think, despite her present situation as a prostitute within the walls of Jericho, she was a woman who made a generational plea as she pled for the life of her father, mother, brothers, sisters and all who belong to them. Little did she know that in pleading for her family, she would be making a plea for all generations who would be saved through Jesus! God had a plan for her, despite what she had done as a prostitute.  God used her brokenness and most likely shame, to help bring healing and wholeness to the entire world.  God can use anyone, at any time.

Check out Rahab’s lineage! Her generational plea for her family leads us to Jesus.  I’m guessing that she had no idea the significance of that sliding door opportunity.  Salmon, I’m guessing future husband at the time of Jericho, was from the tribe of Judah.  Check it out in Matthew 1:1-17.  There were 3 sets of 14 generations between Abraham and Jesus, and our Rahab from Jericho was part of it all.  She even gets a shout out in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11.

Salmon + RAHAB = Boaz + Ruth = Obed = Jesse = (King) David = Jesus

This version (above) of Jesus’ lineage is like the 1, 2, skip a few method.  But wanted to give a visual that wasn’t overwhelming, and add some people that might be familiar to us.  Rahab was Boaz’s mother! Boaz was the kind man who took the widow Ruth (with Naomi) as his wife.  The kindness, faithfulness and humanness in these generations isn’t unlike our own.  We are flesh and bone, we make mistakes, but we can be used in powerful ways that we have not a clue.  God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than our own.

Rahab was willing to be strong and courageous.  Hiding the spies could have cost her her life, and on top of that she sent the pursuers of the spies in the opposite direction.  

She was saved when the walls came down (spoiler alert!) and her very own home was in the wall!  How cool is that?!  God listened to her plea and used her in a powerful way; it was all part of His plan.  He uses everything for His good and perfect plan.  She made a generational plea for her family, acting on her belief in God, and the walls came tumbling down.

Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh

Joshua 1:12 has my wheels turning and seeking clarity and understanding.  There is a group of people that seem to be singled out throughout Joshua and other portions of scripture, it’s the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  What’s different about this portion of the Israel?  Why are they being singled out?  What makes them different? 

I did a search of where this portion of the tribe of Israel was mentioned together, and was lead back to Numbers 32.  It’s a long, interesting story!  I would highly recommend sitting down with your favorite beverage to dig in. 

So I think (please correct me if I missed this), the people were living in the land of Shittim, next to the land of Moab.  The Israelites had defeated the Midianites (not sure where that is in relation to Shittim) in Numbers 31.  And in Numbers 32, it states that the the tribes of Reuben and Gad had seen the land of Jazer and Gilead.  So I wonder if during the journey of this battle they saw the land and thought it desirable.  The tribes of Reuben and Gad had a great number of livestock, so they would need a lush place with plenty of area for their flocks to graze.  They saw the lands of Jazer and Gilead and asked that these lands be their inheritance, they asked to not be taken across the Jordan. 

Moses seems like he may have gotten a little upset with this request, not wanting Reuben and Gad to dishearten the rest of the tribes.  “Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over in the land that the LORD has giving them?” (Num. 32:7) And then Moses reminds them about when spies were sent out into Canaan (Num. 12) and they came back saying “they are stronger than we are.”  The people of Israel got very disheartened, and Moses having learned from that didn’t want it to happen again.  To me, it sounds like a little bartering and remembering goes on between Reuben, Gad and Moses and the end product sounds something like this …

(my words) Rueben & Gad :: “Look, if you let us build pens for our animals and settle down here then we’ll go over and fight for you.  We won’t rest until all of our brothers have their inheritance too. But we want this portion.” 

(my words) Moses :: “Fine, you can do that.  But if you don’t, you will have sinned against the Lord and that trouble is on you.”

So Moses said, after all the Israelites have their inheritance across the Jordan the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh would have the kingdom of Sihon and the kingdom of Og, the land with all it’s cities and territories throughout the country.  This is land to the east of the Jordan river, towards the sunrise. 

Up to this point it’s just been the Reubenites and the Gadites mentioned, I’m not exactly sure where the half-tribe of Manasseh got thrown in the mix.  Perhaps they got wind of what was going on and wanted in on the deal?  Perhaps Moses knew their hearts?  Perhaps Moses was listening, God’s plan was just being enacted and wanted them to have this land too?  I don’t know. 

What I do know is that they (especially the tribes of Reuben & Gad) spoke up for what they wanted.  I do know that as the story goes, they fought across the Jordan and kept their agreement.  I do know that in Joshua 1:12-18 they are reminded by Joshua (Moses’ successor) of their agreement and acknowledged they will fight.  Then, it’s states “Only be strong and courageous.” What a good insert for that reminder! 

There is so much power in asking for what we want and keeping our agreements.  

As Joshua addresses the tribes of Israel in Joshua 1, they were already living in their land of inheritance!   Notice in Joshua 1:10-11 Joshua is speaking to the people as a whole, but down in verses 12-18 Joshua is speaking to just these three groups of people.  The “men of valor” would have to leave their families to cross the Jordan and fight for their brothers.  

I still have so many questions!  Why these tribes?  What is the significance here?  Maybe it’s just because they had a very great number of livestock (Num. 32:1).  Whatever it is, I’m curious.

Are you willing to have what you want?

When I was a young girl, and then a young woman, I was asked a question that continues to impact my life.  Are you willing to have what you want?

For me, it’s been a reality check question.  Am I ready to do the work to have what I want?  Those desires placed within me.  Am I willing to do the work it takes to have what I want?  IMG_2283Am I willing to walk the path I think God has laid out before me or the path that looks a lot
easier?  Am I willing to do the work to have a healthy marriage?  Am I willing to do the work it takes to raise kind, loving, responsible kiddos?  Am I willing to do the work it takes to have a berry farm?  Am I willing to plant and care for a garden?  Am I willing to spend the time it takes to build deep and meaningful relationships with my girl friends?  The list could go on and on.

This question appeared in my thoughts yesterday as I was thinking about Joshua commanding the people of Israel to prepare their provisions to “go in to take possession” (Joshua 1:11) of their Promised Land. Were they willing to have what they wanted, their Promised Land?  Am I willing to go in, and do the work, to take possession of my Promised Land?  It’s a good question!

Sometimes with prayer and more thought, the answer is ‘no’!  Perhaps that is a sign to go a different direction.  Sometimes when the answer is ‘yes’, its with the knowing there s a lot of hard work ahead.  But I want the bounties, joy, connection and the fruit that is associated.  I am willing to have what I want.

One thing I’ve experienced, the harder the work is, the richer the reward.  Are you ready to do the work?  Are you willing to have what you want?

 

Take Possession

Joshua 1:11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’’

I believe we each have our Promised Land, and I’m not speaking about heaven.  I think of this as the area in which God has prepared and called us to, our purpose.  The place where we dwell in and use the gifts given to us to edify others and the world around us.  There is an energy that flows easily, although not always easy, and creates beauty.  It’s our area!  To me, this is living in our Promised Land. 

Living in our Promised Land isn’t just going to happen.  Perhaps, but not likely without action on our part.  Raising kids, we want them to understand the value of hard work.  If I gave my son everything he wanted without requiring his participation, I would not be doing a good job as his mother.  How would he learn to care for himself?  Most importantly, it could lead to a feeling of entitlement and there would be no ownership or partnership with others.  It means so much more when we have put something of ourselves into what we want.  We treasure it and care for the things we have worked for.  We’re going to have to put some effort in.  There will be uncomfortable battles, questions, challenges and obstacles all requiring us to step out!

Those phrases “to go in to take possession” and “God is giving you to possess” require present life action on our part.  We aren’t always just given something to possess.  God told them to go in and take possession!  The Promised Land is waiting and prepared, we must take a step of action and receive that which God is giving us to possess.   

IMG_1489.JPGWhat small step can you take, even if you don’t know the exact path?  What little step of action, or giant leap, can you take right now?  Is it a prayer, phone call, talking it out with a friend?  Claim it!  Do it!  And don’t get distracted!  It’s o.k. if it turns out that you need to switch direction, because “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Prepare Your Provisions

Joshua 1:10-11 “And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, ‘Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to posses.’” 

“Prepare your provisions”, exactly what provisions should I be preparing?  It seems as though it would be pretty clear to the Israelites what they were to prepare; food, water, animals, their families and possessions.  They would be physically walking into the Jordan river and crossing into the Promised Land, they had been anticipating and waiting for, for 40 years.  The Hebrew words here are telling us to literally prepare and make ready our meat, food or provision.

Going over our Jordan into our promised land, at least for me, seems somewhat ambiguous. I have an idea, but I don’t have a clear path.  There is a dream, but not a clear map with a check list.  So what provisions do I need to prepare?  I can’t just pack my suitcase full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and clean underwear.  That would provide physical sustenance and needs, but my Jordan is going to require more than some PB&J.   

What do I really need in my suitcase for this journey?  What provisions?  Over the past couple of days, the only all-encompassing answer I’ve been able to settle on is the Lord. 

Jehovah-jireh, Lord Provider.  In Genesis 22 when Abraham brings Isaac, his only son, to Mt. Mariah to sacrifice him before the Lord.  Here, Abraham boldly trusts the Lord and is obedient.  And as Abraham is preparing to sacrifice his son, the Lord calls out to Abraham and provides a ram instead.  To me, it’s one of the most beautiful stories in the old Testament.  The foreshadowing, the trust, willing obedience and provision amaze me.  As a remembrance of what the Lord did for him, Abraham calls this place Jehovahjireh which means the LORD will provide.  Not the LORD may or might, but the LORD will provide.  There is action on Abrahams part, he didn’t just sit around and wait for provision, he took bold and courageous steps!  It was not the fun and easy path.  I also love how the Word uses LORD (all capitals) which reminds us that He is a covenant keeping LORD.  There is provision and Promised Land written all over this portion of Genesis.

In John 14:25-27 Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit, our Helper.  As a Believer the Holy Spirit resides within us, and I consider that eternal provision and an unmatched provision while we are walking this earth.  The provisions of the Holy Spirit are irreplaceable and abundant!  The Holy Spirit will teach us and give peace.  Sometimes I call part of this Holy Spirit within, Intuition.  Listening and trusting that which is within has taken some practice for me, requiring quiet time, listening, reflection and grace. 

Philippians 4:10-20 also speaks of God’s provision.  I just love this, and would highly recommend you spending some time reading and reflecting on this passage.  Briefly, for me it’s a good reminder and comfort knowing that there will be highs and there will be lows in life, there is no way around it.  We will share troubles.  We can choose to be, and learn to be, content in everything; remembering that God has and will continue to supply everything because His provisions are at work. 

When we choose to live with Jesus in our hearts, we have everything.  We have God the Father as LORD Provider.  We have the Holy Spirit as our guide, and we have Jesus who has provided an eternal gift of salvation.  He will provide for our every need if we allow him, because “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) 

He is enough for you and me, He is sufficient.  The Lord has provided friends and family to encourage and hold me accountable. The Lord has provided time, energy and resources.  The Lord has already prepared provisions ahead of me, because He knows what I’ll need and what I’ll face on the path ahead. There is a huge comfort to know that my “suitcase” is well stocked with provisions for the journey ahead as we ‘go over this Jordan’. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. He will supply every need.  And, it will be according to His riches, not my own.  

So, I will prepare my heart; filling it with Jesus, because He is my provision.