Jordan [River], he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over…”
(Joshua 3:1 NIV)
Every life has its crossover times. Those significant moments when we transition from the familiar to the unknown. Crossing over to Canaan was a brand-new experience for the Israelites. They had spent forty years wandering in the desert. Except for Joshua and Caleb, the wilderness was all the people had known. And now, as they gathered at the edge of the raging Jordan River, it was frightening. Joshua reminds them God’s divine guidance is leading them “...for you have not passed this way before.” (3:4c)
The Hebrew word ābar - meaning to “cross over” or to “pass over” – is used twenty-one times in the story of the Israelites crossing over into the Promised Land (3:1-5:1). This verb, ābar, has a dual understanding. First, it means to go from one place to another or a transition time where you leave one place and then enter into another. Second, it emphasizes the decisive nature of the epic moment. Ābar involves entering a new kind of life. (1)
We all have ābar moments in our lives – those crossover experiences that are decisive, life-changing and sometimes frightening. Birth would be one. Some event in our childhood may be another. Those important decisions about college, career, marriage and money involve our crossing over into new areas of life. Crises that arise due to sickness, financial troubles, divorce, family difficulties thrust us into ābar times.
Another significant crossover time is those moments of spiritual decision when we open our lives up to Jesus in confession and repentance and receive His forgiveness and grace. It’s the moment when we rededicate ourselves afresh and anew after days, months, or perhaps even years of wandering in the wilderness. Those times when we crossover into the Promised Land, inheriting the promises God has given us.
As Christians, we are called to be crossover people. People who are willing to take risks in pursuing our own faith and in pursuing our divine calling to share with others about Jesus Christ. Crossing over will mean stepping out of our comfort zone, exploring new ways of doing ministry and committing ourselves to the new faith “land” God is calling us to.
Joshua had a difficult task in front of him to lead the people across the Jordan into the Promise Land. As God’s people at Princeton UMC, we too have a difficult task before us to lead people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Like the Israelites, we do not go it alone. The pathways may be new to us, but they are not new to God.
Prayer: Almighty God, just as you brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, making them a crossover people, so too, you call us to be a courageous crossover people today. In Jesus name. Amen.
In His Word,
Reverend Dee Dee
(1) John A. Huffman, Jr. The Preacher’s Commentary: Volume 6, Joshua, pg 65.