The Difference between the Red Sea and the Jordan River

Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.

Exodus 14:16 (ESV)

And as soon as those bearing the ark were dipped into the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of the harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Joshua 3:15-17 (ESV)

These are two stories of a very similar miracle. The Israelites need to cross a large body of water, and God makes a way across. But there are some big differences. For Moses—all he was asked to do was lift his staff. Now, Moses was being pursued by an enemy. The parting of the Red Sea was certainly more dramatic. Then we get to Joshua. Joshua is heading toward the next battle, not away from it. He’s moving into the Promised Land, at long last. Yet, Joshua has to do something unexpected. The waters of the Jordan don’t part until the priests with the ark of the covenant wade out into the water. 

In my own life, I want the best parts of both scenarios. I don’t want to be pursued by my enemy. I want time to prepare for where He is calling me. But I want the water to part before I step out. I don’t want to step out into the waters until I’m sure the water is parting. I don’t want to wade out into the unknown, even when I know He is calling me. 

We want the paths for our families to be easily laid out. We want a checklist for “this is how to raise the perfect Christian kid”. We want to know that our convictions are more than our own whims. We don’t want to wade into the unknown without seeing where it is going. Joshua knew the plan, but He didn’t see it happening until they were out in the water. Moses didn’t know where they were going, but he saw the way before he stepped forward. We don’t always get to have the advantages of both. 

I’ve watched Frozen far too many times. I have a three-year-old girl, so I could probably quote, not just the two main movies, but the weird spin-offs, as well. In Frozen 2, Anna has lost her sister and best friend, and she sings, “Just do the next right thing. Take a step. Step again. It is all that I can do to do the next right thing.” Sometimes life is like that. We’re just taking one step after another—whether the path is clear or not, whether the end is known or not. 

Maybe God will open the doors for you before you need to walk through. Maybe they’ll open as you walk through. Maybe God will part the water to show the way. Maybe He’ll part them as you step out toward what He called you to. Follow faithfully, however He may lead. And know that, if He is calling you, He will provide the way.

Lindsey Jane Godbold
Lindsey Jane is the interim worship leader at Faith Methodist Church; pastor's wife; homeschool mom of eight and blogger at notesfromtheparsonage.com