Warning: This is a long post!
Have you ever worked with a friend in a team and have your original friendship turn sour? Working with someone exposes areas that you might not see in your normal interactions, and these sometimes lead to the disappointment of "he's is a completely different person from who I initially thought him to be!"
But sometimes, that's not always true.
A friend and I had been getting increasingly unhappy with each other while working on several things together, but after thrashing things out late one night, we realized that all it boiled down to was miscommunication.
I thought that she was complaining that she had too much work
She thought that I was keeping all the work to myself
And it snowballed from there, to the point where neither of us wanted to talk to each other (which led to further miscommunication), and it began to ruin the entire team's dynamics! It was a pity because we could have created so much positive synergy as a team, instead of sapping the enthusiasm that was originally there. And it was painful for us, as well, so both sides were relieved when we finally managed to clear the air and clean out the cobwebs.
But what about our relationship with God? Do we misunderstand each other? Do we even know God, or do we just know about God? Are the things that we know about God centered around what He can do for us? Are there times when you think "God's just a bluff - He doesn't answer prayer. He's not really there, and He certainly doesn't care"?
Matthew 7:7-8 says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For whoever who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
Many times we lay claim to that promise, and when help doesn't come instantly, we ask God "But why?!"
But sometimes, help is on its way. Here's an example that I heard from someone (i think it was my pastor, but I can't remember!):
Many of us have read about the Crossing of the Jordan river. I've included the 2 chapters below (Joshua 3 and 4) for anyone who wishes to listen as well.
Perhaps because of my very dramatic imagination, I've always visualized this event to be like one huge magic show - The priest step in, their feet touch the water, the water immediately piles up and the ground beneath their feet instantly turns dry. But that's not what really happened.
Now Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ask reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho" -- Joshua 3: 15-17, NIV
I've found a picture of where Jericho and Adam is, so you can have a clearer picture of what this event must have looked like. If you look at this picture, you'll see that not only is Adam more than 10 kms away (and this is in a straight line, not including all the kinks in the river), it's also around a bend! So the likely scenario might have been this:
The priests carried the ark, and stepped into the swollen, flooded, tumultuous river.
"Keep going!" yells Joshua, one thousand yards away.
"Great", mumbles one of the priests. "It's freezing, our feet are already wet, and he wants us to get in deeper? I thought God said He was gonna dry up the river??"
But they kept going anyway, deeper into the water. The river reached ankle height.
"Keep going!" yells Joshua, still one thousand yards away.
"Easy for him to say! He's so far away!" complains another priest. "He's not the one facing trouble at all. And where is God anyway? Maybe He forgot to turn off the tap like how he promised."
But still, they kept going anyway, deeper into the water. The river reached knee height.
"Okay, this is not funny anymore," mutters another priest. "It's really cold, and nothing seems to be happening. What if that Joshua guy is wrong? He's a crazy guy after all - remember how he said he could challenge the giants in Jericho the last time round? Now that we're finally going on with his crazy plan, he intends to drown us first??"
"Come on," says a third priest. "Joshua has never brought us into any danger yet - we've always come out victorious. Let's just go a few more steps."
Step. Step. Step. And the water reached up to waist height.
The first priest bursts out, "This is scary. I'm tired, freezing, the currents are pushing against me and I'm going to slip at any moment! I'm leaving. God ain't here. He hasn't heard us. I'm not going to drown following some invisible God.. I'm outta here!"
"Wait! Wait!" yells the third priest, "Don't go! If you go, we're all going to fall!"
"No! He's right! If we wait any longer, the current is going to sweep us off and then we'll definitely die!" rebuts the second priest
"Hold on a second," says the fourth priest, who until now had kept silent. "Don't you think the water is getting lower now?"
"Don't listen to him," says the first priest. "He's got suicidal tendencies! I saw him helping this guy who was injured the other day, and you know how unclean blood is...."
"No, look! The water level really is going down! It's now only at thigh height!" says the third priest.
And the priests stared, in amazement, as the water continued to slow to a trickle. And when they had reached the middle of the Jordan, the rest of their families and friends started to cross - on dry ground.
My friends, if you've lost hope waiting for a miracle to happen, perhaps this story will encourage you that help is on its way. Sometimes we just can't see it. But God sees the big picture, and sometimes we just have to communicate and trust in Him to know that everything is in His hands.
So, there. Perhaps I might have just helped to clear one more cobweb in this book chocked full with mysteries.
Comic strip thanks to picsdigger.com and map image thanks to st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk