Our Reluctance to Return to Normal

by Lynn Cowell June 3, 2021
“And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” Joshua 3:13 (ESV)
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The news headline grabbed my attention: “People With ‘Cave Syndrome’ Are Reluctant to Return to Normal Life After COVID.” I completely get that, I thought. For over a year we’ve been told, “Don’t leave your home. Don’t go out.” Separated from our family, friends, churches and offices, we’ve stayed away in order to stay safe.

As the world opens up again, I wonder: What if we’re not supposed to return to the way it was before? What if part of God’s purpose for us is not to go back, but to move forward?

At the beginning of the book of Joshua, normal” for the Israelites has just ended. Moses, their leader for over 40 years, has died. What would the future look like? They knew what to expect of Moses’ leadership, but what about Joshua’s?

Joshua begins his new role with this command to the officers of the people: “… ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess’” (Joshua 1:11, ESV).

Sounds great, except that crossing the Jordan River would be a very scary experience, especially at flood stage. (Joshua 3:15) Reluctance would have reeled through the camp. Yet, the people answer, “… All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go” (Joshua 1:16, ESV). They knew the life God had for them could only be obtained by moving forward.

As God’s people headed into the unknown, He promised He would cause His people to “… know that the living God is among you …” (Joshua 3:10, ESV). God said He would position His presence before them, with the priests and the ark of the covenant going first. (Joshua 3:11)

He promised that the water would stop flowing so they could go through, as our key verse says: “And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap” (Joshua 3:13). However, notice the one requirement before any of this would happen: The soles of their feet had to touch the water first.

God promised to protect them as they crossed the waters. What God didn’t promise was to first remove their fear of the rushing waters.

Instead, He promised to take His step after they took theirs.

Sure enough, as soon as their feet “… were dipped in the brink of the water …” the waters “… rose up in a heap very far away …” (Joshua 3:15, 16, ESV). Any fear they had floated down the Jordan as they moved across the river on dry ground.

Maybe the reluctance some of us feel about returning to normal is actually a gift from God — an opportunity like the Israelites had to move out in faith and find our new forward.

We may have to step out in faith before God steps out to fulfill His promises.

It’s possible God doesn't want some of us to go back to the hustle of normal, but instead He has been using this season to reveal a part of life we were missing before.

For me, everything coming to a halt brought more time with family and more time to invest in a local organization helping women build new lives after prison walls. I’ve had more space to be able to love on those who need compassion and support in my local community.

In this season, each of us has a unique opportunity to ask God how He wants us to move forward. He may want to give you new insight into how to spend your moments and invest your days for His glory.

Take a moment now to ask Him what dipping your feet in the water looks like for you. How does He want you to move forward? No matter what that looks like, you can trust that He’ll be with you each step of the way.

Jesus, as the world around me picks up speed again, reveal to me what my forward looks like. Give me the faith to step in that direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (ESV)

Proverbs 4:25, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” (ESV)


While we may be having a hard time as our world ramps up again, our children might be as well. Empower a young girl to find the foundation she needs to move forward with Loved & Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls by Lynn Cowell and Michelle Nietert. Click here to order your copy.

Finding your first step forward isn’t easy some days. Yet, God’s Word can empower us to do just that. Take your step with Lynn’s Bible study, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures.


Connect with Lynn Cowell over on her website today, where she’s giving away the downloadable resource, “4 Steps to Finding Forward.”


What is one aspect of life that you are struggling with when it comes to “getting back to normal”? Ask the Lord how He wants to speak to you about this struggle. Is there something for you to learn? Is there something He wants you to leave behind?

We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2021 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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