Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!
This morning’s post is number 100 for in2theriver.com. It would be easy to just ignore the fact that today marks the day this blog went into the triple digits. Just like so many other moments in life, I could just allow it to pass by without a second thought. Many times this is the way we approach life – we reach a milestone in life and barely pause to reflect on what it took to get there. While this is not a big deal and may be appropriate in many cases, it can be an omission that impacts our future in many others.
When I decided to create this blog in a large part to chronicle my journey in Nicaragua, I thought long and hard about the name. As I considered different options, the mental image of the people of Israel crossing the Jordan River, as is described in the book of Joshua in the Old Testament of the Bible, kept popping into my mind. If you are unfamiliar with the story, I would encourage you to check out the first few chapters of the book of Joshua as it is worth the read. To summarize it briefly, the people of Israel were about to cross into the Promised Land, but had to cross the Jordan River to get there. God promises to stop the river so that the people of Israel can cross over on dry land, but he tells Joshua the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant must step into the water before the river will stop flowing. In other words, God says in order to experience the great plans I have for you, you must first trust me and be willing to step into the raging river. It was this passage that led to the name “In to the River”. In order to experience life to the full, we many time need to be willing to step into the river (if you would like to read more about the name, you can check out my post titled “Why In to the River”).
After all of the people of Israel had crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, God asks them to do something very interesting. Instead of telling them to focus on the next step necessary to achieve their goal, God tells them to stop. In fact, God instructs Joshua to have twelve men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, go back into the middle of the Jordan River, which God was still holding back, to pick up twelve stones. God then told them to use the twelve stones to create a memorial so that they would not forget that incredible moment in their history. So what did they do? “So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:8-9, NIV 1984) They set up a milestone so that they would have something to remind them that real life is found when they are willing to trust God and step “into the river”.
It is with this spirit that I write today’s post. As I have reflected on the past two years of trusting that God would bless my willingness to step into the river by moving to Nicaragua, I have realized how true to his word God has been. There have been many ups and downs over the course of my time in Nicaragua, but through all of them God has been faithful and taught me more about myself and the world than I could have ever learned otherwise. I have had the opportunity to be a part of something far bigger than myself and have been incredibly blessed because of it. I have also had the chance to share part of the journey with my wife, which has been a great way to start our life together. With that in mind, I am marking this blog post, number 100, as a memorial to remind me that life is found in the river. There are only so many milestones in this life. Make today the day you begin marking them, for yourself and for the generations to come.
– James Belt