3 March, 2021

Crossing Rivers

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by | 1 January, 2021 | 1 comment

Dealing with COVID-19 is like trying to cross a swift-moving river on foot; both present a formidable challenge to get safely to the other side.

After 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua and the Israelites found themselves just needing to cross a river to finally enter the Promised Land. Can you imagine standing on the banks of the great Jordan River when it was swollen and surging during spring rains? As you look across the river, you know God is calling you to the other side, I don’t know about you, but my feelings would be as charged-up as the current. At least three thoughts would be going through my mind:

Fear—There is no way we can safely cross. We will drown.

Doubt—Will God protect us from this raging river? Surely waiting another two months for the flooding to end won’t hurt anything.

Frustration—Why would God bring us here now, during this season of flooding? He should have planned better!

When staring at barriers in life, we need to pause and process those feelings in order to make the right choice. God does not ask us to discard our feelings; he asks us to choose obedience to his plan over our feelings. He wants our feelings to follow our obedience. It’s the same with forgiveness, praying for our enemy, and loving our neighbor—these are not requests but clear choices God asks us to make out of obedience, not feelings. God created us, so he knows what is best for us.

God gave the Israelites three days to process their feelings as they camped along the shore (Joshua 3:1-2). During that time, he reminded them of a couple things (vv. 3-5):

Follow the ark of covenant—Follow the promises God made to love you and deliver you (see Exodus 6:1-9).

Sanctify yourselves—Separate yourselves and your thoughts from common things (surely this involved a spiritual battle for each individual Jew in preparation for crossing the river). Joshua stressed to the Israelites that they needed to focus on the Lord.

Follow God’s Leading . . . 

As the Israelites were given three days to process their feelings and choose to follow God’s leading, God gives us a moment to pause and process. He opens the door for each one of us to have a conversation with him as we face barriers in our lives. Seek him and you will find him. Ask him and he will answer.

God, where do you want me to be?

Lord, how do you want me to get there?

Father, please guide my steps in obedience and help me align my choices with your direction.

Lord, I praise you and trust you; give me the courage of Daniel.

God, help me trust you and your Word. Help me move out in audacious faith as I take on this challenge.

After seeking out God’s direction, blessing, and strength, begin to cross that river. Don’t allow the river or its strong current to influence where you go. Don’t allow your feelings to direct you. Follow God’s leading.

To paraphrase a hit song from the early 1960s,

I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go.
There isn’t a river too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away.

Little Peggy March’s singing of this catchy tune helps to illustrate the power of love’s leading. Joshua led the way to the Promised Land by reminding the Israelites to fix their eyes on the ark of the covenant, a symbol of God’s presence. As each person stepped into the dry riverbed, I imagine Joshua saying, “Remember God’s promise to you, written on the tablet; fix your eyes there so that your feet might follow in obedience.” God raises up leaders in our lives to walk beside us as we cross barriers.

Joshua was a leader in his time, and Nathan Freeman is a leader in our time. He isn’t afraid to step into the river in the battle of faith over fear. He leads River Christian Church in Fleming Island, Florida. Week after week, he teaches the surrounding community how to courageously navigate the challenges in front of them in order to move closer to Jesus. His sermons and devotions on this topic inspired this essay. Good leaders like Joshua and Nathan are pivotal to your success and a critical part of the way God designed the church. Make sure you are following the right leaders.

Every generation has a seemingly impossible river to cross. I believe this generation’s river is the duality of COVID-19 and racial injustice. We are standing on the banks. The path across and the means to get there may look a bit different for each of us. Yet whatever it requires, we must be ready and willing to cross this river. We need to prayerfully make a plan with God and set out to make it happen.

Those who set out to cross this river should prepare themselves to be amazed. The Bible contains incredible stories not merely to inform us about how great God was, but to prepare us for this demonstration of how great God is today.

One Foot in Front of the Other

At The Solomon Foundation, we are not standing on the banks unwilling to cross. No, we have stepped into the river as we pursue God’s plan for this ministry. TSF has been open and will remain open. We continue to approve new loans, complete new construction projects, and accept new deposits in record numbers. As the first wave of COVID-19 gripped our nation in March, the leaders and staff of TSF processed our feelings and sought direction from God, refusing to allow COVID-19 to make the choices for us. And then TSF got to work in carrying out a plan.

When we arrive at a river, there is danger in attempting a haphazard crossing, but there also is a real possibility and danger in pausing for too long. Camping out on the banks for a few days can easily turn into a few weeks, months, or years. Be sure to seek out God and his plan for you and your church . . . and don’t delay for too long in moving forward!

At The Solomon Foundation, our day-to-day choices have changed in some ways—we are conducting most meetings with church leaders virtually rather than face-to-face—but we are still accomplishing the mission God has set out for us:

  • honor God
  • help people come to know Jesus as their Savior
  • help our investors achieve a great return on their investments
  • help churches get to the next step
  • have fun!

We continue to set one foot in front of the other. And when we arrive at a river, we may pause momentarily to collect our thoughts and pray, but then we proceed to the other side. We might experience a level of discomfort or uncertainty—as if it might be the wrong time or the wrong place—but we continue on as we seek to honor God in all we do.

God did not promise us an easy journey; instead, he promised to remain with us and never forsake us. Here at TSF, we want to help the church audaciously navigate through the challenges in front of them. God is with us. We must choose to follow him . . . and as we follow, we can sing to him:

I will follow you, follow you wherever you may go.
There isn’t a river too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away.

<a href="https://christianstandard.com/author/reneelittle/" target="_self">Renee Little</a>

Renee Little

Renee Little serves as senior vice president of project management with The Solomon Foundation.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Thank you for the lessons [that provide good] guidance and great inspiration.

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