Today is the post collegiate’s birthday! She is 23 years old! She is brilliant, healthy and beautiful! To God be the Glory! In the months and weeks leading up to her birthday, she shared a cultural perspective that I was unaware of. She went on to explain that this year has to be amazing because its her Jordan year. For me, just the mentioning of Jordan sends me into overdrive. I hail from the south side of Chicago, and have secretly been married in my head to Michael since the 80s (don’t tell Mister). Everyone knows the number he wore on his jersey, but I couldn’t understand the relation to her birthday. She explained, “Mom, your 23rd year is supposed to be significant. Its the year that big things happen!” Leave it to millennials to place added pressure on self and make comparisons to a multimillionaire, as if the world does not provide enough excitement. Immediately, I began to process what MJ accomplished. I responded, “Sweetheart, there is no need to place that kind of expectation on yourself. Take your time. Your dreams will manifest, God has not forgot.” I’m not sure the extent to which my words mattered. She’d already determined in her mind the criticality of the year ahead. I wasn’t knocking her hustle. I support her in her grind, but the concept of Jordan continued to resonate in my spirit, just like the bouncing of a basketball. I began to consider the Jordan River, and how the children of Israel crossed over.
Joshua was selected to lead the children of Israel following the death of Moses. We recall the difficulty of the people Moses was leading. They played a significant role in the emergence of his anger – so much so that God allowed him to see the Promised Land, but not enter in. Whoever said leadership is easy lied! The children of Israel were preparing under Joshua’s leadership to cross the Jordan river in three days. This is significant because previously they spent 40 years in the desert for what was to be a three day journey. They failed to listen to the voice of God – very similar to us. We complain about the length of the wait time of God, yet we are often reluctant to consider the extent to which we played a role in our delay, simply because we ignored the wisdom of God. If we are to cross our Jordan, it is imperative that we seek the voice of God daily and in that seeking, obey. This requires vulnerability and honesty. In the first chapter of Joshua, the people told Joshua that they would obey him as they did Moses. I suppose they forgot about their disobedience over the previous 40 years. Our second maneuver to cross our Jordan involves obedience. It is in fact better than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22). We shouldn’t follow God for the fishes and the loaves, but instead follow what we are instructed because he has dominion over our lives, and knows what is best for us. There are blessings associated with such. Deuteronomy 28:2 affirms, “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.”
Even though the Lord promised the children of Israel through Joshua to give them every place where they set their foot (Joshua 1:3), there were a few requirements that needed to be followed. As we make our way to cross our Jordan, we must be careful and selective about who’s on our team. Joshua sent out two men to spy out the land in advance who ended up being hidden by a prostitute. In this season, we must be open to the fact that help does not always show up like how we envision. She knew the promise God had made to Joshua and the people of Israel, and she played a significant role in it coming to fruition. We must surround ourselves with individuals who know where we are headed and are in agreement. Next as we cross our Jordan, we must do like what was instructed to the children of Israel, consecrate ourselves. This simply means that we recognize the power of God in our lives and that our living is rooted in him. This is a tough one because God has endowed us with knowledge and desires – but they shouldn’t go before what God has planned for us. We must demonstrate our willingness to rest in him to bring those things to pass.
Finally, the term Jordan means “flow down.” We learn at the end of the third chapter of Joshua that the Jordan River was at flood stage. As we think about our realities, life can feel overwhelming. However, isn’t it just like the wonders of God to step in when we feel as though we are being overtaken? The Jordan River actually countered its very nature, even its name to do the impossible, stopping the water from upstream enabling the people to cross over. After the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, the Lord commanded Joshua (and he appointed 12 men) to place stones at the point they crossed so that they would testify the history lesson to their children when they asked.
As our daughter turns 23 and asks, “When will I reach my dreams? When will my hard work pay off? When will I be recognized for my effort?” She is not alone. I’m slightly older than 23 and ponder a few of these questions and many more often. However, I have the same response as the children of Israel. God has brought us through, and he always will. His love is never ceasing and he desires nothing short of the best for us. He cares for us now in the same way that he did thousands and thousands of years ago. As you embark upon your Jordan, whether it be 23, 43, 63 or 93, know that the Lord is with you, as he was with Moses, as he was with Joshua!
So daughter, as you begin year 23, I tell you as the Lord told Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9). I love you! Happy 23rd birthday! Happy Jordan Year!