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OPINION

This will carry you in the worst of times

By R.A. Mathews
Special to The Star

SPLASHDOWN!

Astronauts Behnken and Hurley made history Sunday after two months in space when they landed in the Gulf near Pensacola. Private boats sped toward the site. 

My dad would have been among them with his chicks gathered around him. He thought such moments were invaluable. CE as he called it---Continuing Education.

I was four when we journeyed to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where space travel first began. The Wright brothers’ took flight in 1903. 

Every summer brought trips to such historic sites from sea to shining sea, not to mention Hawaii and Pearl Harbor. My father died within months of our landing in Alaska. 

He believed history was meaningful and impressive.

Nowhere is that true quite like in Israel---a tiny area that could fit in a western chunk of the Florida Panhandle, maybe including Apalachicola and Tallahassee. My dad could have driven the nation's perimeter in a long day.

Because it’s so small, Israel has one event after another taking place in the same spot across thousands of years. It’s amazing!

Take the Jordan Valley. Remember that the Sea of Galilee is a lake in northeast Israel and the Jordan River runs north to south from it to the Dead Sea in southeast Israel. The area around the river is the Jordan Valley.

This is where Abraham separates from his nephew Lot nearly 4,000 years ago. It’s where Sodom and Gomorrah go up in smoke.

Centuries later, Moses leads the Hebrews to the Jordan Valley after 40 years of wandering. It’s where God holds back the Jordan’s waters so the Hebrews can cross on dry land. Yes, that happened twice. Well, more than that — I’ll get there in a minute.

The Hebrews cross opposite Jericho, the first town they conquer. Joshua 3:1-17

King David flees to this valley centuries later, leading his men to safety across the Jordan River. 2 Samuel 15:13-17:22

John the Baptist chooses this same area, Bethany beyond the Jordan River, for his ministry. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan Valley. John 1:28

And not just Jesus. Jews from across the nation hiked all the way down to the Jordan River and crossed it to be baptized by John. 

Why? Because of his miracles? 

John performed no miracles.

So, why did they come? Why did the priests ask John if he was Elijah---why not Isaiah, Daniel, or Jeremiah? John 1:21 

The answer is big! 

Some 900 years earlier, the great prophet Elijah lived beyond the Jordan. “He had a garment of hair and a leather belt around his waist.” 2 Kings 1:7-8

Fast forward 900 years: “John’s clothes were made of … hair and he had a leather belt around his waist.” Matthew 3:4

There’s much more.

One day, Elijah and his protégé, Elisha, leave Jericho and go the Jordan River. Sounds like where the Hebrews crossed before they seized the Promised Land.

Elijah strikes the Jordan River with his cloak, it parts and the two cross on dry land.

When Elisha returns, Elisha also parts the Jordan and crosses on dry land. But where is Elijah? 

The prophet had just been taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. Elijah never died! 1 Kings 19:19-21, 2 Kings 2:5-17

And then, some 900 years later, John the Baptist is right there. He’s in the same place wearing the same garments, preaching that the Messiah is coming. 

The Jewish people run to him! 

They know their history; they get it. They have this very nice, heavily detailed book of their heritage: The Old Testament.

What my dad said is true. History is meaningful and impressive.

But don’t overlook your history with God. I continually say: Write down your miracles, remember what God has done for you. 

Fear has set into the world. Lost jobs, lost homes. I recently had a friend die from Covid-19. 

I find myself awake at night, worried, and I lift my heart to God. His power and His plan throughout Scripture comfort me. I treasure my book of miracles, remembering all He's done for me. I trust Him.

History will carry you through the worst of times: God’s words and events in Scripture and your own history with God. Trust Jesus. He is and will always be your Savior.

Mathews is an ordained minister and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Letters@ramathews.com.

Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.