• Pastor Bowler

Waiting to Move Forward

Waiting may be the hardest discipline of the Christian life. Most of us would rather do anything than wait. There are some people who would rather do the wrong thing than wait. Waiting may be the hardest part of the Christian life. God makes His people wait in order to teach them that if He doesn’t come through for them, they will never make it on their own.

There is a time for action and there is also a time for waiting. There are times when we get in too big a hurry and are too impatient to wait for the Lord’s time. On the other hand, there are some who lag behind and are not ready to move forward when they should. We need to remember that God is never too late. If we really want to do His will, He will always do His part on time. A little boy was standing at the end of an escalator. The sales lady asked, “Son are you lost?” “No ma’am, I’m waiting for my chewing gum to come back.” Waiting time is never wasted time if you are waiting on the Lord.

There was a three day delay when the people reached the Jordan River. This gave them the opportunity to become quiet before God and made it possible for Him to give them final instructions. It was when they were ready to hear, that the orders were given.

The same is true in our spiritual experiences. We must make a decision and then act upon that decision. After we have acted on our decision, it may be that God will have us wait for a while. This may sound like a paradox, but it is not. We need to learn to be calm before the Lord and wait on His time and timing for the events in our lives. The reason for Israel’s delay at the Jordan, and often the reason for a delay after God has made plans to move ahead, is to see if we are serious about following Him. When this is evident, then further instructions are given to us by the Lord.

The officers moved among the people and in Joshua 3:3, commanded them saying, “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.” They needed to watch the Ark, for its movement was to determine theirs. When it went forward, they were to move forward.

It was important that the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence of the Lord would be in sight of the people as they made the historic crossing of the Jordan. In Joshua 3:7, Joshua said, “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.” This was a visible token to Israel that God would go into the river first and part its waters and remain as the protection of His people while they safely crossed over to the other side. Then God commanded Joshua to tell the priests to come up out of the Jordan; when they did, the waters returned to their former level.

There is no getting through from the self-life to the Christ-life unless one has a clear view of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember for example, how Peter started to walk on the water with Christ’s permission and enabling. Peter had no difficulty as long as he kept his eyes on the Saviour; but the moment he began to look at the waves and noted the violence of the elements, he began to sink. Then he cried out to the Lord Jesus for help. He turned his eyes on Him once again and the Lord took care of the situation.

Similarly, this is what we need to learn to do with regard to Christ. We must look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). If we keep our eyes on the problems, the circumstances and the frustrations of life, they will overcome us. But if we look constantly to Christ for help, we will grow and develop in spite of our circumstances.

Another part of the instruction given to the Israelites was that they were to leave a space between them and the Ark. “Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore” (Joshua 3:4). The people were to keep an open space of some 3000 feet between them and the Ark until it was in the bed of the river. One reason for this was so they could be near enough to see it, yet not too far so that it was out of sight.

There is always a danger of following too far off. This was true of Peter at one time. It resulted in him denying his Lord, and Peter was not convicted of his sin until he caught a glimpse of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter went away weeping in his repentance. Additionally, another reason for keeping that certain distance between the Israelites and the Ark was the need for reverence.

The Ark was going to point the way for the people to go. For this reason they needed a clear vision. They had never travelled that way before, so they needed an unobstructed view of the Ark. Similarly, we need a clear vision of Christ. It seems as impossible to us to shake off the desire for self things as it was for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River. Victory comes from following the instructions God has given.

We read of Him in 1 Corinthians 1:30, as our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption. This is why He is able to take us through the place of death into life. There are no bridges over this Jordan River. The way is not over; it is through.

He is our Righteousness when we sin and fail. But we are restored to fellowship when we confess our sins. Christ is always our Righteousness. He is always our Wisdom. He leads us on. He is everything we need—the Alpha, that is the beginning; the Omega, the end; and everything in between.

We read in Ephesians 1:22, that God “…put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church. Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Jesus Christ is filled with all the fullness of God and we are united with Him. We are complete in Him, so it is no wonder that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We find everything we need in Christ.

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10).

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