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Lessons at the Jordan   

It’s a scraggly line on the map in the back of your  Bible.  The Jordan river.  About 150 miles in length, it trickles mostly north to south through the Sea of Galilee and eventually down to the Dead Sea.  

The Jordan River is where Jesus was baptized.  So it’s understandable that many who travel to Israel today want to be baptized or re-baptized in the Jordan.  When Diana and I serve tour groups, I often help with the baptismal service.

Would you write me off as unspiritual or godless if I confessed to you that as meaningful as these baptisms are to the people we assist, the experience is not among my favorites?   I can see the shock on your face, so let me explain. 

First, the Jordan River is not a clean river. It just isn’t.   In fact, it's downright dirty. 

Second, the Jordan is filled with little fish that actually nip at your legs while you’re standing in the water.  A creepy sensation, to be frank.

Third, the water is cold and, to make matters worse, we typically arrive when the sun is past its prime.  Again, not pleasant. 

A recent experience in the Jordan left me with two impressions for which I am humbled—and grateful.  

We baptized one lady who made this statement in her simple testimony: “I love Jesus dearly—and sometimes desperately.”

A shark could have chomped down on my leg at that point and not given me more of a jolt. How often is it true of me that I love Jesus dearly?  How often could I truly say, “I love Him desperately?”  Yet that’s the place I need to be!

When through with the baptismal service, we changed out of our white baptismal clothes and took a quick shower.  But because of my convictions about the Jordan being so dirty, I repeatedly lathered the soap, determined to “get that dirty river off of me.”

But I was slammed with the thought, Why am I not equally repelled by the dirt of my sin?  Why am I not more disturbed about my sin-stained words, my unclean thoughts?  Maybe it’s time for a cleanliness “recalibration” in my life. Maybe it’s time for a purification that only the Pure One can bring. 

A desperate love for God—and a hunger for true holiness.  That’s what I hope comes to mind next time you see that squiggly line called the Jordan River on the map in your Bible.


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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