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God is Working Upstream

August 5, 2017

The Lord has humbled me this summer. I’ll confess to you that when the summer began, I thought I had God’s plans for my family all figured out. I thought that God and I were so close that I could anticipate where He was leading us and in what ways He would bless us.

And I was wrong. I felt some serious disappointment.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Every day I tell God that I don’t understand what He’s up to, but that I know I don’t have to in order to trust Him. I have been looking for ways to praise Him in my uncertainties, because I am certain of Him. I read this passage the other day and used it to praise Him:

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“and my servant whom I have chosen

so that you may know and believe me

and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,

nor will there be one after me.

I, even I, am the Lord

and apart from me there is no savior.

I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—

I and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.

Yes, and from ancient days I am he.

No one can deliver out of my hand.

When I act, who can reverse it?”

Isaiah 43:10-13

No one is like the Lord! I will praise Him with all my breath, even when the road ahead is hidden from my sight. He is trustworthy!

Last night I heard something that I really loved. A friend reminded me of the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan river to reach the Promised Land.

Joshua said to the Israelites….”And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and will stand up in a heap.”

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at its flood stage during the harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark 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 Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed crossing on dry ground.

Joshua 3:9a,13-17

Don’t miss the good part! God halted the waters upstream, a great distance away, and His people could not yet see that the waters had stopped. They did not immediately see the Lord’s work. They had to wait for it.

Sometimes God is working upstream and we cannot yet see it.

Brian Jones wrote a book called Second Guessing God: Hanging on When You Can’t See His Plan. Brian wrote:

“Picture a massive gathering of people, the kind of assembly you only see at political conventions or rock concerts. Over a million people had waited their entire adult lives for this moment. All that stood between them and their future lives was the Jordan River…

“At any other time of year, God’s people could have waded across the Jordan, but not during the floods of the harvest season. The river had turned into a raging deluge…

“We can only imagine how terrifying the Jordan must have looked to mothers holding the hands of their tiny children or to elderly couples clinging to each other. Those with disabilities, those who were sick or blind must have wiped the mist off their faces with panic. Even the swift and strong among the Israelites must have wondered why God brought them to this point only to let them die…

As soon as the priest’s feet touched the water, God caused the water to stop flowing… Where did God stop the flow of water? Did it stop right where the people were standing? Did the Israelites see God at work with their own eyes? No. The water ‘piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam' (v.16).

“Scholars estimate that the town of Adam was roughly nineteen miles upstream from where the Israelites stood, far beyond where they could see. It was a miracle, but it was a miracle the people didn’t witness with their own eyes. God performed the miracle upstream, out of sight.

“I believe the same situation occurs in our lives today. Here’s the powerful truth the children of Israel learned that day: God is always at work upstream in our lives.

“Where’s God? Whenever we face a problem in our lives—sickness, job loss, depression, tragedy, or discouragement—God is at work upstream in those situations, beyond our line of sight. The only thing the Israelites could see was the problem right in front of them. They could have concluded that since the raging river was there, God wasn’t actively involved in their situation, but they would have been wrong. He was there; they just couldn’t see him at work.”

Brian Jones

Second Guessing God: Hanging on When You Can't See His Plan


Lord, there are so many things I don’t know. But here’s what I do know:

You are sovereign.

You are good.

You see me.

You will never leave me nor forsake me.

You are always at work.

You love me to the moon and back, and then back again.

Help me stop trying to figure everything out and just rest in You. You’ve got this.

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