Yes, God, your God, dried up the Jordan’s waters for you until you had crossed, just as God, your God, did at the Red Sea, which had dried up before us until we had crossed. This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always. Joshua 4: 23-24 MSG
We can tell a lot of one’s life by glancing at photographs. They tell a story. From a baby’s first arrival into the world to high school graduation to wedding days and beyond. The commonality in most pictures is the subject normally wears a smile. If someone were to go through my old photos they would probably think I was the happiest person on the planet.
But, pictures only allow us to see what we want them to. I can’t think of anyone that wants to capture a moment of despair. Why? Because we don’t want to remember it. The essence of snapshots is to freeze time so we can fondly look back at happy memories and pass those down to our loved ones.
I scrolled through images the other day and as I looked at each one I was instantly taken back to that exact time and place. With some of them, I remember a disagreement that had occurred earlier in the day or tears that were shed hours before it was taken. As time passes and I glance at them again, it’s not the conflicts I’ll recollect but rather the people that were with me during those times and how, with God, we overcame the obstacles.
This reminds me of the twelve stones of memorial in the book of Joshua. Joshua begins by the Lord charging him to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into new land. The Lord tells him to be strong and courageous because He would remove their enemies from the land and He would be with them. The priests, carrying the Ark of the Lord, led the way. As soon as their feet were placed in the Jordan, its waters were cut off and the river stood up like a wall. All the people then crossed the river on dry land. Afterward, the Lord told Joshua to place twelve stones at the place they crossed as a memorial to the people of Israel to serve as a lasting sign of God’s work. Joshua said in the future their children would ask what the stones meant and he instructed the Israelites to tell them the story. The story of God’s might, presence and the promises He kept. How He did it so everyone on earth would recognize the Lord’s hand is powerful and they would hold God in solemn reverence always.
We will all go through our own Jordan Rivers at some point. We’ll probably take a selfie before and after it but unlikely will we do it in the middle. It’s the hard times no one else sees that builds our character and makes us who we are. When we feel so weak we must rely on God’s strength. When we don’t see a way out and God pulls us through. Not many smiling faced portraits then. But Oh, when we make it to the other side! We may look a little more run down and our knees might be a little more beaten up but the testimony we’ll give will be worth it to tell our children. The story of a good Father who was with us and delivered us into our promised land.
You, who created life knows ours from birth to death. Every smiling face and hidden tear. Your word says you are always with us and fighting for us. Help us to remember that. On the days we are happy enough to take a photo, remind us that it is your delight to see us joyful. During the times we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, wrap us into your arms and help us rest in your promise of deliverance. Thank you God that no matter how we are feeling, you are there. In Jesus' name, Amen.