…as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away. Joshua 3:15-16
So this was the challenge from the first night, as His priests, to follow Him into the River Jordan at high tide that we might know that the Living God is among us. And each one of us took the challenge, that step, whether it was to head off to the prison to play basketball, to translate rock hard stories of brokenness and redemption for a woman’s group, or to tell one’s own story, for the first time in eighteen years.
The tent was quiet at last, with the scent of wet wipes gently caressing the night breeze. The full moon shone bright through the flapping fly.
“Mrs. Voelkel, tomorrow I am going to give my testimony.” The voice was steady with resolve, but it was clear that it was a big statement.
And so tomorrow, after I tossed poor Eric the Seed across the cement stage to be pecked at and hauled off by ruthless evil birds, and then tossed him again to be pounded into the ground by a beating sun, and to be tossed again to be choked by the strong fingers of riches and cares of this world, and yet one more time to land in rich receiving soil and to skip out the door with his great harvest of three little kids from the front row, I called her up to the front.
And she told her story, line by quiet line, looking down at the floor to focus her thoughts. A story of abuse, of beatings, of unrelenting anger. Until at last, that day when she and her little sister were packed into the back of a patrol car and hauled away. And she remembers sobbing in the back seat, looking out of the back window, hoping. Hoping that her mom and dad would come running out the door and down the road for her. But they didn’t.
But God is the God of second chances. It is never the end of hope. He is bigger and brighter than we can ever imagine. And her story fell on soft soil.
And the next day, little Ana tugged on her shirt. And she had a story for The Storyteller, her life was just like hers, blow by blow. The Storyteller knelt in the dirt and wrapped her arms around little Ana and wept. And talked about a loving God who would stop at nothing to save His little children.
And Hugo had the same story too. And Marco with the crooked teeth and shiny eyes and the same shirt every day. And over and over again The Storyteller knelt down and wrapped her arms around another one of His children.
And she learned that to push the past into a dark silent corner was not healing, but rather opening it up to the Light and to tell it for His glory and goodness brings peace.
That we might know that the Living God is among us.