Crossing Your Jordan - What To Do When You Feel Hopeless

Do you ever feel like there must be more to life? Do you ever feel like God has a bigger plan? I know I have felt that way. This morning as I was reading in Deuteronomy 31: 7-8 I found this:

 "Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it.  And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. he will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."

When you feel hopeless

The Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness for a very long time and the Lord had told them he was giving them the Promised Land. God had something exciting in store for the Israelites and that something could only be found across the Jordan River. I'm sure you can relate.

Have there been times in your life when you knew God had something more in store for your life? Have you ever felt hopeless and like that elusive something was waiting just across your very own Jordan River? So close, and yet so out of reach.

And so we wait. We wait for the Promised Land to come to us. We remain stuck. At a standstill, on one side of our Jordan. Human nature is like that, motionless, given to fear. What is your Jordan? Is it a fear of what others will think? Is it lack of something; talents, money, time? What is causing you to remain on one side of your Jordan? 

There are two things to notice in the above passage. The first is the part where it says "Be strong and of good courage".  Wow, certainly appropriate words for when we are stuck immobile. It's always wise to get on our knees and pray to the Lord for strength and courage which can only come from Him in order to fight those feelings of hopelessness.

But here is the other part, the part the Lord brought to my attention this morning. It says "and you shall cause them to inherit it".  What?  God had already promised them the Land, that was God's part. But it clearly says Joshua had to do something in order for them to receive it. "...And you shall cause them to inherit it", not God causing it, Joshua causing it. Joshua, a human full of doubt, fear, failings and regrets just like you and me, was going to be used by the Lord to "cause" them to inherit the Promised Land.  God wanted to do something through Joshua but it was going to take action. That was to be his part.  

Just like with Joshua, this little phrase from Deuteronomy sits at the crossroads of our lives. What is your part?  What is your action? Maybe the Lord is wanting to use you to bring something about through you.

Have you been prompted or felt led in a new direction and yet fear holds you back? Maybe you are held stuck, being defined by your past. If God wants to do something through you, don't sit waiting, thinking, "I wish the Promised Land would come to me."

The first step to getting unstuck is just that, take the first step. When you're feeling hopeless, put your foot in the water of your Jordan River and cross over. Step out in faith this day. God has mighty things to do through you as you "cause" them to happen. Ask Him to show you what your action is to be, then do it. That is your part.

What is the action God is prompting you to take?  What is holding you back? 

You are Loved...Just as You Are

You are truly, deeply loved, really. Why do we all have this desire to be someone else or to have what someone else has? If we are to be honest, I think we all have a current "I wish..."?  I wish I was thinner? I wish I was prettier? I wish my skin was more flawless? I wish I wasn't divorced? I wish I was better at...? I wish...I wish...I wish.... The other day I was talking with a pastor friend of ours and in talking about another pastor he said "I wish I could preach like him.". I immediately stopped him and told him, that was the other pastors style, and God gave him his own style. I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about this desire so many of us have because it is the topic and one of the reasons behind the study we are currently putting together called "Because Liada".  So here's what I want you to know, you are loved for who you are right now today. And from the lyrics from an awesome song by JJ Heller "not for what you have done or for what you'll become". You are loved for you, just as you are at this very moment even if who you are right now is...fallen, sinful, overweight, divorced, depressed, lonely, etc. I'm not saying we need to settle in to where we're at and stay there because it is always good to work towards being the best we can be. But we need to learn to be the best of ourselves, not of someone else. We need to learn to love ourselves just where we are today because Christ is not waiting till you lose weight to love you. He did not wait to die on the cross for you till you accomplished something great.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39 NKJV

Isn't it incredible what we do to ourselves? We try to separate ourselves from the love of Christ by thinking we are unlovable when He has said nothing can separate us from that love. We think He would not want us and we are unforgiveable when He has said He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.  So if you are doubting your worth, if you are feeling unloved, lonely, unbeautiful, etc. focus on Him who loves you without end, who's love fails not and who loves you today...just the way you are.

Are You Listening? God's Whispering.

As you know ...life is busy, it really is, and the more 'advanced' we get as a society, the less time we seem to have. When we do have some time, we go and fill it with more busyness, work will expand to fill whatever time we give it. Amidst all that busyness, below the hubbub of our days, if we take the time to listen, there is God whispering to us. Whispering, why does He whisper?  I mean, if God would shout at us as we keep working, it would certainly save time and we could accomplish just as much for Him as when we slow down and take time listening for His whisperings, couldn't we?  Well, thats doubtful, and God knows it. I'm not saying God never shouts to get our attention because there are times He definitely does just that. And I'm not saying it's impossible to spend time with the Lord while we work, because I've definitely done that too. However, we all need to be spending quiet time listening for the whisperings of the Lord. Scripture reveals many ways in which God communicates with His people, whispering is just one of them, so what's so special about a whisper?  The depth of your relationship is often discovered in whisperings because the whisperings are the easiest to miss.

In 1Kings 19: 1-14 is the story of Elijah hiding in a cave from Jezebel who was seeking to kill him. God sends a very strong wind which broke the rocks, an earthquake, and a fire but the passage says "God was not in them". All these things were followed by a whisper from the Lord, and Elijah heard it. Again, as I read this I wondered, why a whisper? As I compare this passage to my life, I know in times of busyness if God sent an earthquake...I'd notice, if He sent a fire (which He did at one point in my life), I'd notice that too (and I did). But when He sends a whisper, if not attentive, if too busy filling my days, I could miss it, and that is exactly the point. It's an issue of faith, "Was that You Lord?" "Did I hear You correctly?" I think God wants to find out just how in tune we are to His voice. Just like in the 1 Kings passage, if we can only discern the earthquakes and fires from the Lord and not the sweet whisperings, we can miss out on so much the Lord has in store for us. Elijah was in tune to His voice and God had work for him to do. Elijah had a journey to take and a King and a prophet to annoint.

There is one other thing I notice about this passage, Elijah had distractions going on in his life. First, there was the distraction of running in fear from someone who wanted to kill him, then there was the distraction of natural disasters going on all around him (wind which sounds a lot like a hurricane, earthquake and fire). Unfortunately, it is often during extreme trials in our life, when we let ourselves get so consumed by the trials that we neglect taking time to listen for His voice and yet it is during those times we may need to hear the whisperings the most. God has great and mighty things planned for you, listen for His whisperings. What is He saying to you today?

Lord,

I want to recognize every intonation of your voice.

Every inflection.

Every sigh.

Every whisper.

I want to know you so closely that I can tell by just your voice if you have a smile on your face over something I've done or even...disappointment.

I fail You

Am unworthy.

Yet You're always there-ready for me to come to you.

And yet You do chase after me...

You don't let me go so easily, do you?

That's You're voice isn't it?

If only I was listening.

I do recognize it and heard it over the busy hubbub of my days

But I could have missed it...and kept running.

But I heard, and I'm here, safe in You'r embrace.

Why? Why do you love me?

Why do you forgive me over and over?

You tell me...because I am yours.

Precious.

Even when I feel like a wretch.

Even when I act like a wretch.

Sinner that I am.

Fallen.

But saved.

I Love You, Lover of my Soul.

And I do think I hear a smile in Your voice.

Whisper to me...sweet nothings.