The beginning scene of Saving Private Ryan is probably one of the most gruesome depictions of a real-life historical event that I have ever seen. Its D-Day and the Omaha Beach must be taken by Allied forces. The word “carnage” is accurate here for the battle came with such incredible sacrifice. The Director wanted us to see and feel this for the scene goes on for close to 25 minutes before there is a moment of peace. The first moment of rest is depicted when Seargent Mike Horvath, while in a ditch, looks around, takes off his backpack, and pulls out a can that looks like this. He had two other cans. One said “Italy” and the other said, “Africa.” He opened the empty can, filled it with sand from Omaha beach and then put the lid on it that read, “France.”
You knew at this point that this was a seasoned soldier who was going to be prepared for the challenges ahead.
If you are following along in our blog series in Joshua, we come to a similar, and yet a more dramatic moment.
READ JOSHUA 4 HERE
The Israelites took their next step to cross the Jordan. It required faith. The Priests had to carry the ark dangerously into the Jordan at Flood stage. When their feet hit the water, the river stopped upstream and the ground went dry beneath them. From there, Israel crosses on dry ground and we come to our next reflection. Joshua, after everyone has crossed, goes to the leaders of the twelve tribes and tells them.
“go back in and get a large stone from the center of the river. Bring it out so that we can make a stack with them.”
Sure enough, by the time the Jordan River was back to normal, there will twelve large stones standing on the west side of the Jordan River. For generations, when the children of Israel would ask about those stones, the mothers and fathers would tell them the story about how God led them through. For generations, those stones stood as a reminder to the next generation that God will lead them still through whatever insurmountable force they face in life.
Now, a Christian doesn’t have to look that far back, but we do look back to Jesus’ resurrection and the stone that once blocked him into a grave. Just like those twelve stones are no more, the stone was rolled and his dead body is no more. We look to that a sign that all of God’s promises to us are yes.
With that in mind, I want to encourage you to consider two things coming into the new year.
Is there one tangible thing that you can point to as a real sign of God’s faithfulness to you in 2017. For me, I look at our home and a growing baby church as a sign that God has led us forward and is providing everything and more that we would need in a lift of a faith as we go forward. He is proving that he is more generous than I expect him to be and his power is greater than my faith. How about you? Can you point to something tangible and name it as a sign of God’s grace to you? Some people pick out a new Christmas ornament each year or take a new photo.
What practice would you like to include in your life in 2018 that can deepen your attachment to God’s faithfulness to you? May I encourage you to take your Bible reading to the next level? Could you read daily? Would you consider reading the Bible over the course of next year or maybe one chapter a day? If you started on New Year’s Day, allowing yourself one day off per week, you could read the entire Book of Acts by the time we launch as a church. That book changed my life as I saw God use the local church to transform the world, turning people’s hearts back to God everywhere.
That is our heart and vision—to help people find their way back to God. Thanks for coming along with us on the journey. I look forward to seeing you next week at our next preview gathering at 9:38 at Fugett Middle School.
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