“The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” –Deuteronomy 11:10-15
There is a thought I’ve been chewing on for a couple of weeks now… a truth from God that is beautifully emphasized by this photograph I found online (although I’m fairly certain the photographer had few intentions of it doing so). It is titled The Old Bridge Passing Through the Jordan River. Funny thing… I can’t even see the Jordan River. I can only see what man has built across it—an accessible passageway between two parcels of dry land.
No more struggling through flood-stage waters to get to the other side; only a casual walk-thru. What once would have required more strength, more intention, and more faith has now become less of a requirement. Man has found a way to manage the crossing of the River Jordan, thereby making the trip from Egypt to Canaan and back again an easier journey. Problem is, God doesn’t mean for us to return to our Egypts. He means for us to stay with him in Canaan.
For the Israelites, a trip back to Egypt was met by a formidable barrier—the Jordan River. For us, the barriers are lessened by the bridges we’ve built. We thought we were doing everyone a favor—giving easy access to Canaan so that others might quickly make entrance into the Promised Land. But something is lost when easy access is given to Canaan. Christ is lost in the process. Man-made bridges do little to keep souls connected to the kingdom of God. Man-made bridges allow for a return trip to bondage. Only in the bridge made by Christ and his cross are we able to make the pilgrimage into freedom and stay there.
And in the cross of Jesus Christ, there is always struggle. Always strain. Always choice. Always pain. This is the way of the crucified life. Faith is forged in the Jordan. Saints are birthed in the walk toward freedom.
For the children of God, there is a difference between Egypt and Canaan. At least there should be. A noticeable change between how life used to be and how life currently lives.
In Egypt, life is less. Less freedom; less abundance; less assurance; less hope. In Canaan, life is more. More freedom; more abundance; more assurance; more hope.
In Egypt, God is dismissed from the growing season. In Canaan, God is in charge of it.
In Egypt, self reigns. In Canaan, God rains.
In Egypt, the slave master keeps watch. In Canaan, God keeps vigilance.
In Egypt, obedience is mandated. In Canaan, obedience is chosen.
In Egypt, love for God is half-hearted, half-focused. In Canaan, love for God is whole-hearted, singularly focused.
In Egypt, there is stale bread and bitter wine. In Canaan, fresh bread and new wine.
In Egypt, the ground is hard, void of color and flavor. In Canaan, the grass is growing and green.
In Egypt, the view is horizontal. In Canaan, the view goes vertical.
In Egypt, the landscape is fixed. In Canaan, the landscape is limitless.
In Egypt, man possesses man. In Canaan, man possesses the kingdom of God.
Indeed, there is a difference between life in Egypt and life in Canaan. For the children of God, the contrast should be obvious, our choice of residency all the more. All too often, though, we’re tempted to access the bridges we’ve built between the two countries. A walk backward to Egypt (back to the captivity of our once bitter complaint) takes less energy these days, less intention than it did for our spiritual ancestors. It only takes a moment to return there. A single decision for less. None of us are exempt. Our flesh keeps us tethered to that one possibility. Until we drop this covering that holds our inward parts together, we’ll always have access to Egypt.
Time to burn some bridges, friends. Time to make it harder for our hearts to go backward. Time to, instead, live in the freedom that is ours as children of God. Time to saturate our lives with kingdom words, kingdom songs, kingdom walks, and kingdom company until the bridges back to our yesterdays fall prey to the waters of the Jordan and no longer serve as a convenient catalyst to captivity.
Where are you living today? In Canaan, in Egypt? On the bridge in between?
Do what you have to do to stay with God. God is in Canaan. Do what you have to do to get there. Do what you have to do to stay there, and make sure to burn any bridges that would allow you to leave there.
My match is lit. My heart resolved. My faith most certain. It is good to keep company with the King in Canaan. As always…
Peace for the journey,