Christian author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada writes:
I'm a quadriplegic, yet I can drive a van (my hand is secured to a big joystick so I can steer, accelerate, and brake). I enjoy being independent, so if there's something I can do, I will—even if it means tackling the drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant by myself.
Remember, my hands don't work. That's why last week when I cruised into the drive-thru lane to order hamburgers and Cokes, I prayed for the fellows at the pick-up window. Lord, give them patience…and give me a smile. Then I moved to the intercom to place my order.
When I'd finished explaining "no cheese" and "extra mustard packets," I told the voice on the intercom that I was disabled. There was a pause. Then, "Okay…no problem."
I pulled up to the delivery window and smiled. Sticking my arm out the window, I asked the cashier to take the 10-dollar bill that was folded in my arm splint. That was a cinch. While he fished for my change, I asked him to place it in the paper bag along with the hamburgers. At that point, the server bagging my order looked over his shoulder. Both boys, confused, gave each other a look that said, “Do you know what she's talking about? 'Cause I don't!” I smiled and slowly repeated my instructions.
They got the message—and even wrapped my change in a napkin before they dropped it into the bag with the food. Then they handed me my order. I had to ask, "Could you please lean out your window and wedge the bag between me and the van door?" Both boys looked at each other again. "I can't reach for the bag. Remember?"
"Oh, yeah," they laughed, then hung halfway out the pick-up window to lodge the package between my wheelchair and the door. "Are you set? Are you okay?" they asked in all sincerity.
"Great job," I assured them. "God bless you guys!" They slapped the side of my van as I drove off. When I glanced in my rearview mirror, they were waving good-bye. Thanks, God, for answering prayer. That could have been awkward, but it turned out to be fun!
This is the daily stuff of my life. It always involves more than simply picking up hamburgers or the dry cleaning. It involves a chance to make God real to people. A chance for them to serve, to feel good about themselves, to experience a new way of doing things.
Problems are often God's way of prying us out of our rut.
Citation: Joni Eareckson Tada, Holiness in Hidden Places (J. Countryman, 1999), pp. 47-49, used with permission. © 2000 PreachingToday.com/Christianity Today, Inc.
3:1 Early the next morning, Joshua and the Israelites packed up and left Acacia. They went to the Jordan River and camped there that night. 2 Two days later their leaders went through the camp, 3-4 shouting, "When you see some of the priests carrying the (Ark of the Covenant), you'll know it is time to cross to the other side. You've never been there before, and you won't know the way, unless you follow the chest. But don't get too close! Stay about half a mile back."
5 Joshua told the people, "Make yourselves acceptable to worship the LORD, because he is going to do some amazing things for us."
6 Then Joshua turned to the priests and said, "Take the chest and cross the Jordan River ahead of us." So the priests picked up the chest by its carrying poles and went on ahead.
14 The Israelites packed up and left camp. The priests carrying the chest walked in front, 15until they came to the Jordan River. The water in the river had risen over its banks, as it often does in springtime. But as soon as the feet of the priests touched the water, 16-17 the river stopped flowing, and the water started piling up at the town of Adam near Zarethan. No water flowed toward the Dead Sea, and the priests stood in the middle of the dry riverbed near Jericho while everyone else crossed over.
OBSTACLES ARE OFTEN GOD'S WAY OF PRYING US OUT OF OUR RUT.
1. The Jordan River forced Joshua out of the rut of being second in command to Moses.
2. The river pried the people out the rut of marking time without a real sense of direction for a long time – 40 years in the desert.
3. The river compelled them to get out of the “manna mentality.”
There is a world of difference between believing the purpose of leadership is to “meet my needs” and that the purpose of leadership is to “help us conquer new territory in obedience to God.”
Citation: Wayne Schmidt, Leading When God Is Moving, © 1996 by Wesleyan Publishing House.
Many years ago in the city of Minneapolis at Bethlehem Baptist Church they needed a Sunday school teacher for the junior boys. This class wasn't bad, just energetic. No teacher had been able to control them. Ewald Chaldberg, a Swedish masseur, was asked to teach, and he took the junior boys class.
Ewald still had his Swedish accent. Buzzing all over the church was the word, "He'll never make it. Three weeks, and that will be the end." But somehow Ewald Chaldberg believed God when he took the class, and he stayed with it through the years. He kept teaching boys.
Some years ago I was asked to come to that church and share in a service. It was the tenth anniversary of the death of Ewald Chaldberg. How do you like that--a layman in the church, and they're celebrating the tenth anniversary of his death!
During the service, they recounted that at least forty men were in Christian service someplace in the world because Ewald Chaldberg taught boys, loved them, and watched over them as they grew. Ewald Chaldberg had faith to believe that God could overcome his human limitations.
On the morning of that anniversary celebration, twenty-seven lay persons stood up to say, "We're going to be like Ewald Chaldberg in a small way." The obscure immigrant with a Swedish accent found significance because he trusted the Lord who said, "My idea is bigger than your idea."
Citation: Gordon Johnson, "Finding Significance in Obscurity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 82. © 2000 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, Inc.
3:7The LORD told Joshua, "Beginning today I will show the people that you are their leader, and they will know that I am helping you as I helped Moses. 8 Now, tell the priests who are carrying the chest to go a little way into the river and stand there."
9 Joshua spoke to the people: Come here and listen to what the LORD our God said he will do! 10 The Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites control the land on the other side of the river. But the living God will be with you and will force them out of the land when you attack. And now, God is going to prove that he's powerful enough to force them out. 11-13 Just watch the (Ark of the Covenant) that belongs to the LORD, the ruler of the whole earth. As soon as the priests carrying the chest step into the Jordan, the water will stop flowing and pile up as if someone had built a dam across the river.
The LORD has also said that each of the twelve tribes should choose one man to represent it.
4:10-13 The army got ready for battle and crossed the Jordan. They marched quickly past the (Ark of the Covenant) and into the desert near Jericho. Forty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh led the way, as Moses had ordered. The priests stayed right where they were until the army had followed the orders that the LORD had given Moses and Joshua. Then the army watched as the priests carried the chest the rest of the way across.
14-18 "Joshua," the LORD said, "have the priests come up from the Jordan and bring the chest with them." So Joshua went over to the priests and told them what the LORD had said. And as soon as the priests carried the chest past the highest place that the floodwaters of the Jordan had reached, the river flooded its banks again.
That's how the LORD showed the Israelites that Joshua was their leader. For the rest of Joshua's life, they respected him as they had respected Moses.
OBSTACLES ARE GOD'S WAY OF PROVING HE IS WORKING THROUGH US.
In 1995, Christopher Reeve, the "Superman" actor, fell from a horse in a riding accident that severed his spinal cord and paralyzed him from the shoulders down. In the days which followed both he and his mother considered pulling the plug on his life support system.
In his book Still Me, which describes how he battled back from the accident, Reeve said he first shared his thoughts with his wife, Dana. "I mouthed my first lucid words to her: 'Maybe we should let me go,' " he recalled.
But his wife, through tears, persuaded him to fight back, saying, "I want you to know that I will be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You're still you, and I love you."
Citation: Sherman Lee Burford. From the files of Leadership. © 2000 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, Inc.
4:1 After Israel had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua:
2-3 Tell one man from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a large rock from where the priests are standing. Then have the men set up those rocks as a monument at the place where you camp tonight.
4 Joshua chose twelve men; he called them together, 5 and told them:
Go to the middle of the riverbed where the (Ark of the Covenant) is, and pick up a large rock. Carry it on your shoulder to our camp. There are twelve of you, so there will be one rock for each tribe. 6-7 Someday your children will ask, "Why are these rocks here?" Then you can tell them how the water stopped flowing when the chest was being carried across the river. These rocks will always remind our people of what happened here today.
8 The men followed the instructions that the LORD had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down.
9 Joshua had some other men set up a monument next to the place where the priests were standing. This monument was also made of twelve large rocks, and it is still there in the middle of the river.
19 It was the tenth day of the first month of the year when Israel crossed the Jordan River. They set up camp at Gilgal, which was east of the land controlled by Jericho. 20 The men who had carried the twelve rocks from the Jordan brought them to Joshua, and they made them into a monument. 21 Then Joshua told the people: Years from now your children will ask you why these rocks are here. 22-23 Tell them, "The LORD our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across. He did the same thing here for us that he did for our people at the Red Sea, 24 because he wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him."
OBSTACLES THAT GOD HELPS US THROUGH BECOME AN INSPIRATION TO ALL WHO COME BEHIND US.
God can see you through each and every
obstacle you may face
– if you TRUST Him.
1) Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible -- He does the things others cannot do. By Oscar Eliason (c) 1945, 1971 Singspiration Music.
2) What kind of river do you face today? Is a river of bitterness and anger standing between you and God’s peace? Is a raging flood of addiction keeping you away from intimacy with God? Is your river discouragement or depression? Does a river of unconfessed sin confront you today?
3) Whatever obstacle you may be facing, do you believe God can see you through it?
4) “Your behavior is a reflection of what you truly believe.”
Citation: Hyrum W. Smith, author of The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, chairman and CEO of Franklin Covey Company © 2000 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, Inc.
5) Do you act like you believe God can see you through the obstacles in your life?
a) Joshua believed God’s promises and commanded the people to obey God’s instructions.
b) The priests believed God had spoken to Joshua and they carried a gold plated box into the flooded river.
c) The people believed God would do what He had promised through Joshua so they walked across the riverbed.
6) Let’s pray and commit ourselves to trusting God as He helps us through our rivers.
7) Prayer Ideas
a) Consecration to God’s sole and sovereign use.
b) Commitment to seek and to obey His instructions.
c) Courage to start doing what we can – leaving the impossible to God.