How To Cross A River
I was contemplating what to write for the Reflections devotion, and randomly came across the article “How to Cross a River Safely." (Disclaimer - all the survival advice given as to crossing a river, or attack by crocodile or bear is not assurance of survival.) The advice on how to actually survive crossing a river or an alligator/ bear attack is followed by a relevant and reflective scripture. Only God’s wisdom is without error.
1. Look for a safer crossing if the water is fast and knee-deep or more (Duh!). Always ford a river at its widest point, the water will be shallower and slower.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it. -Isaiah 30:21
2. Wear sandals or water shoes to improve footing. Move across the river with shuffling sidesteps. You're less likely to fall since you don't lift your feet as high when shuffling.
You've made room beneath me for my footsteps, and my feet didn't slip. -2 Samuel 22:37
3. Face upstream, lean into the current, National Parks Service recommends keep your eyes on the far shore. You may become dizzy if you look down at the swirling water.
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. -Hebrews 12:2
4. If you're with a group, link arms and cross together. This creates more contact points with the streambed, gives everyone more solid footing.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend
themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:12
Then I thought what if there are alligators in the river?
1. If you happen to lock eyes with an alligator on land, run away as fast as you can in a straight line. If a gator grabs you in the water, don’t give up. Fight and fight hard!
I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. -Revelation 3:11
2. Crocodilians are most active and most dangerous at dusk and at night. Best advice is to learn where crocodilians live and stay away. The only sure way to survive an encounter with an alligator is to never meet one in the first place.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -James 4:7
Then I wondered about how to survive a potential bear attack:
1. Not to worry- take off your hiking boots, put on your tennis shoes and run faster than the other hikers. Wear a bear bell to warn off the bear. Firing a gun doubles your chance of incurring serious injury as compared to using bear spray.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. -2 Timothy 4:18
After reading all the advice on survival I decided to up the definition. The most succinct definition was “to continue to live or exist, especially despite danger or hardship.” Our life journey with God will most assuredly include “crossing” challenges. So we need spiritual survival skills. A recurring theme of survival was Learn.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned
and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it. -2 Timothy 3:14
Timothy admonishes us to remember what we have learned to continue. We are to honor both the lessons and our teachers. Israel crossed the River Jordan to the Promised Land.
As believers we are symbolically crossing the Jordan River. In Christ we are freed from the bondage of sin and granted access to forgiveness. At our life’s “crossings” God will never abandon us. The first verse of the poem At the Crossing Over Jordan written 1897 by Charles Bentley brings clarity to this devotion-
When we near the river Jordan,
With its rushing, swelling tide,
Let us put our trust in Jesus as we go;
We shall hear his gentle whisper,
“Fear not, I am by thy side,”
At the crossing over Jordan he’ll be there.
Finally, let us remember God is faithful to provide protection, and a future for each of us:
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.
They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.