Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 107:1-7,33-37; Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12
October 30, 2005
As many of your may know, my wife grew up on a farm in central Missouri. One time when we were dating and were staying overnight at her parents' farm, her brother lent us his car to drive into town. It was one of those unsettled January weather patterns where it rains like crazy for a day or two followed by a cold front straight out of Minnesota and the temperature plunges to around ten degrees Fahrenheit. When we left the farmhouse that afternoon the little branch that we had to cross was barely a muddy trickle. The only way into or out of the farm required crossing the branch. But the rain continued all day in a steady downpour.
Upon returning home that evening I stopped the car as the headlights scanned across a very swollen and ugly little stream. Six hours earlier a child could have skipped across it. Now I had serious doubts whether we could cross it or not. The lights were out in the farmhouse. Everyone had gone to bed.
The valley where the branch flowed past the barn was not steep. I figured that even though the crossing was now thirty to forty feet across, the depth was no more than eight to ten inches. I thought it was worth the chance so I backed up and headed into the water. I will never forget that feeling for a second or two right in the middle when you know the car is floating but at least we were moving forward. We did not float very long and we made it to the other side.
After a moment of prayer and thanksgiving I pulled my future brother in law's car up in the driveway, set the emergency brake and went inside with Joan. That night the northern clipper came through and the temperature plunged to about ten degrees. We woke up that morning to bright sunny, beautiful ice on the trees and bitterly cold.
The branch had subsided as it always does so Joan's brother went out to drive into town. He returned a few minutes later to get keys for one of the other cars. I asked him why he wasn't taking his car into town and he gave me one of those looks like I had just asked the dumbest question in the world. He was too nice to volunteer it but since I asked he said, "When you set the emergency brake, the wet brake shoes froze to the wheel drums." He couldn't drive his car for another week until the weather warmed up.
Now what is the lesson from this? When you get to the other side, don't let you feet get frozen in one place. Keep moving.
Joshua faced this situation too. Modern archaeology and bible scholarship tells us that the accounts of Joshua's lightning military conquests of Canaan were probably much more peaceful and gradual settlement than glorious battles. But clearly Joshua and the Israelites did not reach the other side and find some nice safe spot to settle down. They had a lot of issues in moving into a land already populated with people from many other tribe ...
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