A Crisis of Commitment


By Dennis Thurman

Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan. (Joshua 3:17)

There seems to be a wide gulf between the claims of many Christians and their character. We are too often spiritual under-achievers whose performance falls far short of our potential. Like the ancient covenant people, the entrance into such a life today has a barrier—for them it was literally the Jordan River at flood stage. For us, it is what that river represents spiritually: death to self. In our hymnody, the Jordan has come to mean the place of physical death, and Canaan symbolizes heaven. I hope not! Canaan was a place of fruitfulness, but also a place of fighting and failure. The first city on the other side was not the New Jerusalem but Jericho. So we see that the Jordan does represent death—not the death of the body, but the crucifixion of self. Canaan is the promised abundant life here—involving spiritual warfare, but, also, the power for victory.

There seems to be a wide gulf between the claims of many Christians and their character

This is the crisis of commitment. It is the threshold that must be crossed. Joshua got up early that morning (v.1). He was eager to enter—his heart set on Canaan. The Jordan proves no deterrent to the one whose heart has been captivated by a land flowing with milk and honey. If we could just envision the life God has for us—if we would die to the life we have—then we would zealously embrace the cross. Interestingly, God made them wait three days (v.2). There was to be a time of contemplation before they came to the place of consecration (v.5). That generation had time to reflect on the failure of their forefathers. Unbelief was the reason the previous generation did not enter, and faith would be the needful response if they were to seize the prize. They had three days to look at the flood and consider the human impossibility of crossing—they had no boats or bridges. It would take an act of God to bring them in—and so they would learn if God was for them, nothing or no one could stand against them.

The ark—testimony to the presence of God among them—would lead the way (v.3-4). Never again would they be led by the pillar of cloud and fire. The ark contained the commandments of God. Just so, the Lord no longer leads us with visions, but with the verities of His Word—not signs but Scripture guides our path. We have a confirmed Word of prophecy (2 Pet.1:16-21). The will of God is in the Word of God. Read the roadmap and go forward!

The miracle happened when they stepped out by faith into the water (v.5-17). God affirmed the leadership of His man (v.7). God also displayed His lordship over their foes (v.9-10). If God could remove this barrier, then they could trust Him to drive out the enemy. We will never experience the power of victory and the fullness of blessing God has for us, until we step out of our comfort zone and into the commitment zone! They could have turned back into the wilderness. Their forefathers did. God has brought us again to consider throwing caution to the wind, stepping out in faith, and entering abundant life. Abundance demands abandonment. What will we do? We stand at the crisis of commitment.

*Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.

This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings


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