It’s so hard to lose face in front of people! Even more so if they are personal friends or people who have respect for you. All of us however, will sooner or later face such embarrassment, some more than others.
In 1945, New Hampshire declared the Old Man of the Mountain their official state symbol. This was a rock formation at the top of a mountain, and from a certain angle, it looked very much like the profile of a human face.
The residents quickly fell in love with this “Old Man of the Mountain”, but unfortunately, it was not a rock formation that was meant to last. As early as 1871 state geologists noticed that the Old Man’s huge forehead boulder was slipping. In 1916 something was done to stop this trend: The top stones were anchored with steel cables. That was sure to do the trick!
But the threat to the poor “Old Man” was far from over. In 1958 repairs were done to fill a forehead fracture with a wire, epoxy and fiberglass membrane. Surely everything should be fine now!
And it was. For almost 50 years. But early in the morning of May 3, 2003, two state park employees noticed something amiss. The Old Man was no longer there. Where could he have gone?
Within hours, all the inhabitants of New Hampshire heard this sad news, and many mourned his disappearance. To some it was an utter embarrassment. How could they have neglected to at least try and save the Old Man?
As it turned out, moisture had infiltrated the beloved monument, and this had been the cause of its collapse. The state of New Hampshire had quite literally “lost face” … The face of their beloved state symbol.
If you wish to visit the Old Man of the Mountain now, you will find nothing but a cross near the spot where he fell. Upon the cross are the words, “Always Forever in our Hearts.”
Joshua was facing the potential of total embarrassment as well. Israel had a river to cross and it didn’t help that it was quite tumultuous at that time of year: “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.” (Joshua 3:15a, NIV2)
Joshua had heard from God, and he had a choice to make: He could either trust in the Lord or trust in his instincts. He didn’t doubt even for a second, but boldly declared: “Tell the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.'” (Joshua 3:8, NIV2)
But wasn’t that a bit too reckless when the river was such a menace?
According to Joshua, before these priests even had the opportunity to place a foot in the river, the result would be made clear: “And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD–the Lord of all the earth–set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”” (Joshua 3:13, NIV2)
Joshua had faith. He had no doubt that it would happen according to what God had declared.
Would it be the same for most of us? Wouldn’t we tend to wonder what would happen if, in fact, it didn’t occur? What if we heard God wrong? Wouldn’t we lose face in front of all of these people and be disgraced?
Joshua didn’t worry about any of this. He trusted in God. Worry was not warranted. He didn’t even worry about the fact that the river was at flood stage. Circumstances were against him, but God is bigger than our circumstances!
“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 (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off.” (Joshua 3:15b-16a, NIV2)
Consequently “The people crossed over opposite Jericho.” (Joshua 3:16b, NIV2) and “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 3:17, NIV2)
They were all on dry ground, even though they should have been swallowed up by the tumultuous water of the river!
This can be our reality as well, if we put our total trust in God. Misery and anxiety shouldn’t have a hold on us, for we are, after all, God’s children! If we give in to our circumstantial adversity, however, we will certainly lose face! It will swallow us up whole!
Imagine crossing that tumultuous river without God’s presence!!! Too often we are defeated because we don’t consult with God or wait on Him. It doesn’t have to be this way! Our dire circumstances can be dried up just as easily as the Jordan River at Harvest! And we, too, can reach the other side in total safety. But…this requires faith. No faith, no drying up of the water!
There may be something important to learn from Jesus’ words: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20b, NIV2)
We win by losing. Or in other words, we can only be victorious when we stop relying on ourselves and start depending on God! Ask Joshua! He sure can vouch for that!
Oh no! I left my tent on the other side of the river. What should I do now?
(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)