Life is an incredible journey. But, life is less about wandering and more about intentional pursuit. Following Jesus isn’t a set up for an easy life, but a purposeful one. One filled with victories as well as challenges. As we walk the “road less traveled,” the journey won’t always be a walk in the park. Our journey may seem straightforward, but we are often rerouted. Not because we aren’t destined to enter our promised land, but because we need to be refined along the way. We are called to jump over obstacles, break down barriers, and cross over uncharted waters.
The journey of the Israelites was long and gruesome. They were freed from slavery in Egypt and then called to walk out the journey to the Promised Land. Throughout this journey, the Israelites complained and doubted the power of God, and an 11-day trip turned into 40 years. After a long journey, the only thing separating them from the Promised Land was the Jordan River.
Their last instructions before God parted the waters were, “purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5). God can’t work in impurity, and His heart's cry is for us to be pure before Him. As we consecrate ourselves to Him, He commands a blessing. So, are you all in for God? It’s less about being perfect and more about holiness; being set apart for God and living in the open. Our bodies are meant to be living and holy sacrifices unto God. And as the Israelites purified themselves and followed the Ark across the Jordan, God parted the waters and led them into the Promised Land.
Purification isn’t a one-time task, but a daily routine –saying “search my heart, O God.”
Crossing over doesn’t mean that we suddenly arrive. We never arrive; we forcefully advance daily. After the Israelites crossed the Jordan, their work didn't end there. Crossing over breeds new assignments and new tasks. Crossing over doesn’t mean that you forget where you came from, nor does it mean that you stop advancing to greater things. It is just a piece of the journey.
So what does our journey look like?
Three years ago we planted a church that began with a dream and was then launched with a purpose. One that started in a living room of 6, and one that had 78 people attend its very first service. Who knew that 78 would soon become 700? And that one service would then become two? We’ve hauled trailers every week from one location to the next. An army of believers have been pushing and praying for 3 years. And through the pioneering spirit of this body, we have entered into our promised land –our very own BUILDING!
I don’t think the Israelites ever forgot about their journey, and neither should we. From the middle of the Jordan, memory stones were collected and carried to the Promised Land. From these stones, a memorial was built so that they would always remember the day that God stopped the Jordan River from flowing. Like the Israelites, New Life New Bedford will always remember that Sunday when we were told about Our Building! Throughout our journey, we too gather memory stones just like the Israelites. As we gather our stones, we will never forget where we came from and what we had to do to get here. Future generations will ask about the meaning of these stones, and we will tell them, “this was the day the Lord our God provided us a building after years of ‘camping in tents.’”
“So all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.” -Joshua 4:24
As we move out and cross over, the journey does not end here. In fact, the best is yet to come!