Sunday, October 19, 2014

What Is Separating me from the Promise?

This is the question Andy Wood asked us each to consider this morning at the end of his sermon and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

Imagine the Jordan River on the eve of the Israelites crossing it into the Promised Land.  The river was at flood stage, so it was moving quickly (even the Red River here in Winnipeg moves quickly during flood season) but this particular stretch of the river near Jericho is narrower than the rest so that as the rushing flood waters reached the point where the people were waiting--all two million of them--it became even more turbulent.  Anyone who's witnessed a flood knows that it doesn't just carry water; there is debris like fallen trees, parts of sheds and houses and perhaps even animals unable to escape the river's grab.
Floods can be dangerous!

Back in the days of Abraham, God had promised the land of Canaan to him and his descendants but during the days of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph, the whole family had moved out of the Promised Land to Egypt because of famine.  Now,  400 years later, all that separated them from The Promise was 100 feet of raging water.  What to do?

I'm sure many of them resorted to prayer--a very good and important, even crucial thing to do--but would prayer alone get them across?  According to Andy, we need to not only pray but act.  What action would have been called for?  Start building a bunch of rafts?  A bridge?  A dam?  No!  God told the priests to step into the water. (I can't help but start singing the Southern gospel song at this point--"Step into the water.  Wade out a little bit deeper.")

Say what?  Here in south-eastern Manitoba, when the rivers are flooding, we're all warned to stay away from the water.  The rivers are dangerous!  There are large fallen trees, parts of sheds and houses and sometimes animals caught by the river's grab and the police don't want any people joining the parade of flotsam by accidentally being swept away.  But the priests were not only to go to the edge of the water but to step into that swirling, rushing torrent.  Dangerous!  This is what kept them from the promise made by God centuries before--a raging river ,and all they had to do was step into the danger. Who wants to do that?

When Andy asked, "What is separating you from the promise God has given you," I knew my answer immediately.  My husband and I have been married nearly 41 years but most of that time has been very painful for me (you can read more about this here).  I prayed for years that God would heal our marriage but nothing seemed to change.  Then, eight years ago God spoke to me with a very specific promise: "I will heal your marriage."  For another two years nothing changed and then it did--slowly.  I'm still waiting for that promise from God to be kept.

So what's separating me from The Promise?  Fear.  I have spent 40 years building and strengthening walls of self-protection--hiding myself, my thoughts, my fears, nearly everything about myself that has meaning from the one I'm supposed to be most open with.  How can we have a fulfilling marriage when I've erected the walls of Jericho (so to speak) between me and my husband?  It's impossible.

This past spring, God told me I had to start taking them down; self-protection is a way of not trusting God to protect me and I want to be totally dependent on God.  I also want a fulfilling marriage and all the praying in the world isn't going to get me one if I'm not willing to do what I must do--step into the water, the perceived danger, my fears and and start sharing myself, one bit at a time.  I've already started to do this so Andy's sermon and challenge is a confirmation for me that I'm on the right track.  What was awesome was that during prayer time, two dear women came and prayed for me that I will have the courage to step out.

So, what's separating you from God's promise?

[For those of you who don't know how the story of the Israelites ends, the moment the priests' feet touched the water, the river parted and all two million people crossed on dry land.]

Once it's posted, you will be able to listen to Andy's sermon here.

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