What does the other side of the Jordan River look like? What does it represent? For the Israelites who wandered around the wilderness for 40 years, you might think the other side of the Jordan looked like “freedom” or “deliverance.”
Wait a minute: Didn’t they experience their rescue from slavery when God miraculously parted the Red Sea, safely bringing them across dry land as their captors were swallowed up in watery graves? That sounds like freedom to me.
What must it have been like for the Israelites to be free, but not yet fully conditioned for freedom?
Well, it was chaos. There was no shortage of grumbling, infighting, rebelling, doubting and pouting. Exodus 16:3 captures the prevailing attitude of a barely-free people. “‘If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,’ they moaned. ‘There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (NLT)
The Israelites already knew great hardship. They were a nation of slaves. So when God rescued them, a period of transformation was in order. There was a purpose for their 40-years of waiting. It was to re-shape, to re-form, to re-define their identities. It wasn’t merely an outward position, but a deeply held inner-truth, a core belief about who they were as the chosen people of God.
So they waited…
and they failed,
and they learned,
and they grew,
until they were finally ready.
After decades of eating Manna, their “daily bread” from above, God determined that it was time for them to take their next big crossing. This time they wouldn’t be running away from their enemies. No, they would be running straight into enemy territory. It was time for them to possess the territory and stake their claim as a free people, a people willing to put it all on the line in the promise and the power of the one, true God.
No doubt, God was with the Israelites in the wilderness. God was providing for their every need, even when they didn’t appreciate it. But eventually God took away their daily comforts and set their hearts and minds on the other side of the Jordan. Deep inside their hearts they knew it was time to claim the promise and occupy the land.
“We can be in the midst of the presence of God and still never actually go in and possess the promise that God has for our lives, and God has promises for each and every one of us that then impact the world around us.” (Christine Caine, Bethel Podcast, August 9, 2015)
This is astounding to me! What have we mistaken for freedom? What kind of Kingdom-impact are we leaving on the table in exchange for comfort? In our quest to have financial security, to be fully insured against all of life’s calamities, to build a good name for ourselves, to be successful according to the world’s standards, is it possible that we have traded true freedom for an idol?
What’s waiting for us on the other side of the Jordan River?
Let’s Get Personal
Rebekah and I have been discerning this vision for some time now. It’s not fully defined, but we continue to make strategic decisions to place ourselves in the path of God’s provision and direction.
What do we know? We know God has called us to someday start a Retreat Center here in Arizona. Right now we want to call this ministry “Listening Souls” because we want to come alongside others who are trying to discern the voice of God in their lives. We want to provide soul care to couples who are struggling in their marriages. We want to help people learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit. We want to create experiences that lead to transformation on a soul-level.
Dallas Willard once said, “The will is transformed by experience, not information.” It isn’t enough to be informed about a better way of being. We must experience it for ourselves in the context of a safe place where we can experience authentic community. This is the vision for our ministry!
What About You?
Is God stirring something within you? A dream? A vision of a life of freedom like you’ve never known before?
Is there some kind of work, or ministry, that God has laid on your heart, but you’re too comfortable, too fearful to actually step into the rushing Jordan River?
It’s easier on this side of the Jordan River. That’s for sure. Things make sense and people generally approve of your strategies for success. But if you stay here too long, you run the risk of becoming a slave again. If God is calling you out, then get up and step toward the vision that is being revealed in the place where deep calls out to deep.
What does the other side of the river look like for you?