As Israel makes entry into the Promised Land, taking on first the city of Jericho, they find themselves with another body of water to cross.
Now, you would think that if you were the men of Jericho, you would see this water as a bit of a blessing, and as an opportunity to confront your enemies while they are in a weak spot. Crossing water wasn't easy, and all the warriors of Israel are going to have to find a way to break through before they can even think about waging war against Jericho. It seems to me that if Jericho wanted to get the upper hand, and get it early, they would go out and set up their armies near the edge of the water...and wait. Then pick off Israel one by one as they drag their weary, wet bodies back onto land.
Except, of course, that this isn't the first time that Israel has encountered seemingly-prohibitive waters. Challenging waters. She remembers well that when she came out of Egypt, her first barrier was the Red Sea. And it's likely that Jericho remembers this, too - and what happened to the enemy soldiers who pursued Israel at the water.
Yeah, they all drowned.
And it turns out that God's history with Israel at the water will repeat itself here on the outskirts of Jericho. As the armies of Israel prepare to cross the river, the tribe of priests takes hold of the Ark of the Covenant and carries it forward. As soon as they step into the waters, the waters pull back and pile up somewhere way up river, just as the Red Sea had. As long as the Ark stands in the middle of the riverbed, Israel's whole army passes through on dry ground.
So much for wet, weary soldiers. Israel's coming for Jericho strong, courageous, and confident. And all of the rumors that Jericho had heard about the favor of God for His people were just confirmed while they looked out over their walls and saw the waters part once more.
It's a great story. Absolutely, no doubt, hands-down a great story. We love to read about the power and provision of a God who parts the waters.
But that's really only half of the story.
Yes, we have a God who parts the waters, but we have to remember, too, how the people move. We have to pay attention because this is crucial for our own lives, for what we're praying to God for, for what we long for from Him. It's crucial for us to be able to recognize what God is doing for us.
Because, you see, in the first case, God parted the waters for the people on their way out of Egypt. But in the second, He parted the waters for their people on their way into the Promised Land.
It's not, then, just that God parts waters, as cool and wonderful as that is. It's also why God parts the waters for you. It's not just what He's leading you through; it's what He's leading you to. It's about whether you're on your way out...or on your way in. And we shouldn't confuse the two, lest we find ourselves mired in places God has made a way out or running from those where He's made our path in.
So where is God leading you? Through what? ...and why?