The Land of Promise

The alarm clock slowly illuminates the room with light from a bulb.  False light.  It’s intent is to convince my REM sleeping body the sun is actually rising at 5:30 in the morning.  And then come the birds chirping.  Fake birds.  Most people awaken to a beeping alarm, but not us, we prefer false light and fake birds.

I shuffle through morning’s monotony.  Pour the coffee and cereal.  Tickle the bare feet of sleeping babies who are no longer babies, and whisper rise and shine songs as they stretch wide their arms.

Matt Lauer reports all that is uncertain and scary in the world.  The images and reports scroll the news channels.  I hear the word ISIS and my stomach flips with nausea.  But ISIS is worlds away, or at least that’s what Mr. Lauer assures us each morning as we brush our teeth.  All that, is happening over there, and then there’s the everyday happening right here in front of me.  This world here.  Where there are soccer practices and meals to fix, looming surgeries and melanomas that try and scare, family struggles and relationships to nurture.  There is shepherding and loving to be done in this world too, and sometimes fear feels like a flood.

The morning marches on.

My oldest asked to sit with new friends at lunch, but they told her they were saving the seat for someone else.  She stares at the cereal she’s eating and asks what I think she should do.  I give her Sunday School answers, but deep down I just want to cry right along with her.

The tender soul caught in the middle says she asked a kid on the playground who always plays alone if he had any friends.  He said no.  She told him she would be his friend and that Jesus loves him.  I pack her lunch and bite my lip to resist the tears as she talks.  She said he replied, “Thanks”, but wandered back to playing by himself anyways.  I can tell she’s unsure how to settle the situation in her mind.  I am too, and I’m 30 years older than she is.

I watch the clock as I spread peanut butter on bread and we press on, rushing to not be late.

The kids grab bags and head to the door.  My keys and coffee-to-go in hand.  The youngest can’t find his other shoe.  There is one missing every morning.  Every single morning.  Statistically speaking this should be impossible, yet we defy the laws of probability every morning with one missing shoe.  We both rummage through the pile at the door.  He finds it behind backpacks and then laughs.  I muster up only a smirk, and on the road we go.

As the speedometer increases, my pulse decreases.  We settle into dark leather and more conversation on the drive to school, and if I let it, this world will convince me to settle into dry and desert living as well.  But there is living water flowing right in front of me, and it scandalously promises to trump the monotonous ordinary with sublime victory if only I’ll believe.

Each one of us stands on the banks of the Jordan with a choice everyday.

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.  They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.   The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”  Numbers 13:26-29

The real sun rises up over trees that line the road.  We wait for a green light and I can feel the promise of it’s warmth on my face.  The Jordan is at flood stage during the time of the harvest, and don’t I know it.  When the world seems its most insane and threatening, when the everyday worries attempt to swallow us up, God says, just step one foot to the waters edge.

We come to the last stoplight before the left turn into school, this cues our prayers.  Each of us girls lay down our daily needs, we ask for help with what’s right in front of us, and that’s good.  There’s nothing wrong with that, except there is a small part of me that prays it in defeat.  This touch of doubt in my mind that lives will never change, this part of me whispering that the Desert of Paran is probably as good as it’s gonna get this side of heaven.

But then the five year old prays.  He says one sentence.  One.  Sentence.

“God, give me the power to conquer kingdoms.  Amen.”

His sisters’ bowed heads jolt up and their eyes flash with confusion.  They smile at the randomness of what their brother just prayed, but I can hardly catch my breath at the truth God just roared through our prayer time.

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” Joshua 1:10-11

Wake up church!  Have we forgotten who called us out of bondage?  Have we forgotten the signs and wonders He performed?  Have we forgotten that He has withheld nothing from us since the day of salvation?  Are we praying prayers of victory and belief, or ones of fear and doubt?  His desire is that we walk straight from bondage to the Promise Land, straight from lost to full freedom in His Son.  Desert living is not part of the plan, no matter our circumstances.  No matter our circumstances.

This isn’t prosperity gospel teaching, or a pep-talk to pump up the weary, this is Gospel truth.  This is unspeakable joy despite this world.

Are we living in defeat when we have been handed victory in the land of Promise?

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.  Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.  Joshua 3: 14-17

Despite our circumstances, despite this world, will we step one foot into the water’s edge?  Will we believe Him and pray in victory?  Will we live in the land of promise or settle in the desert?

He asks for one step of faith into the Jordan’s raging flood waters.

Believe Him and take the step.

Amy Heywood