I have been facing what seems like an impassable river; one needing to be parted by God Himself. He asked me to cross this river years ago, but I pulled back, afraid and insecure because of all the “what ifs”.
The children of Israel faced two impassable rivers during their exodus and if I were to place myself in their story I see two different ways I can pray as I face my own river.
The Red Sea is the place of panic prayer. The Israelites were angry, afraid, and thinking they were better off in Egypt. I’m no different. All I see are enemies, and no visible means of escape. I cry out to God, but my prayer is laced with fear, anxiety and, unbelief. I know He can, but will He? God parting the waters should have removed all doubt but they continue to wander for forty years in unbelief.
Fast forward to the River Jordan, overflowing its banks, and as impassable as the Red Sea. Even if they could cross, enemies await on the other side.
This is the place of risky prayer.
Do I dare ask God for that much help? Am I somehow overstepping my faith boundaries and imposing on His good graces? After all, I’ve been wandering in unbelief over this issue. Why should God make a way into the Promised Land for me?
As I read the two stories, I notice a distinct difference in their attitudes. At the Jordan, I don’t see the complaining and chaos characterizing the Red Sea episode. There are no bold proclamations of faith; just a subdued group listening for Gods instruction. Their focus is not on their enemies, the raging river, or the lack of a bridge. They are fixed on God, determined to obey this time.
These are the children of the ones who died in unbelief in the wilderness. They are a new generation of believers, allowing God to strip away their reproach. God doesn’t say throw yourselves into the water and it will part, He says wait for the Ark. It will go first.
The Ark of the Covenant going before the children of Israel at the Jordan River is a beautiful and tangible symbol, representing the holy place where God and man come together in prayer and covenant and purity. It holds all that is holy, and is in essence, the image of Emmanuel – God with us. The Ark represents His presence.
My choice for the future seems risky, but hopeful. Old patterns tell me to be anxious and afraid of new ground, reminding me of my past; my failure to step out in faith. But those accusations don’t take grace into account. Believing prayer changes things. And grace gives do-overs.
Emanuel goes before me. He steps into the water first. I am choosing to believe He is able to part rivers and take down walls. I’m trusting Him. This time I will say yes and go forward…just living the thing.