Stormy Banks and Solid Ground
By Maddie Pannell
“On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie…”
Together, 200-plus Fellows from across the country sang this hymn at the National Fellows Conference this past weekend. We were in rural North Carolina, surrounded by the gentle beauty of autumn and hum of Fellows-fellowship. Singing these lyrics took me back to a small classroom in the basement of McLean Presbyterian Church where our professor, Bill Fullilove, was teaching us just two weeks prior. The focus of that class was the book of Numbers; we were discussing Numbers 13. The nation of Israel, miraculously saved out of Egypt by the Lord, stood on “Jordan’s stormy banks”. Moses sent spies into Canaan— the land God had promised to the nation— but the spies came back with a report of fear and doubt. The Israelites turned away from the blessing God prepared for them because they didn’t have the courage and faith to claim it.
Bill suddenly stopped his teaching. He looked us all in the eye and said something I haven’t been able to forget since then. “I have watched the Lord take past Fellows up to that line in their own lives many times,” he said. “And I have watched them turn away from the blessing that God has for them because the vulnerability and trust it requires to cross the line is too painful for them.”
I felt as if he was speaking to me directly. I thought about the places in my life where I’ve refused to claim God’s promised possession because doing so requires letting go of my pride— being uncomfortable— admitting I’m not in control. The Lord has already placed freedom, healing, and joy before me by the work of His mercy and grace through the cross. Am I quitting on claiming them because I’d rather turn back to comfortable slavery, like the Israelites?
Israel finally did make it into the Promised Land, as the book of Joshua records. God’s people crossed the Jordan River into their possession: the priests and representatives of the twelve tribes walked straight into the river with the ark of the Lord, and the Lord held back the waters of the river so that every Israelite crossed the river on dry ground (Joshua 3). Even as the nation of Israel acted in faith and courage to claim what God had given them, it was still the Lord who facilitated their every step.
This story reminded me that God is not just faithful to deliver what He has promised, but He does every work in me to make it possible. He does not leave me alone to conquer my fears, anxieties, and doubts so that then I may claim what He has promised. He is so powerful and faithful that He conquers those for me, holding back the waters so that I may cross Jordan’s stormy banks.
“I am bound (I am bound…)
I am bound (I am bound…)
I am bound for the Promised Land…”
-Hymn by Samuel Stennett
Pictures from the Week
We made a good effort during the Frisbee Tournament at the National Conference this weekend, but I think we're more skilled at crushing competitors with our cheering and halftime snacks.
After this photo was taken, we had a great brunch at Cracker Barrel. Nothing like some good chicken and dumplings to top off the weekend at the National Fellows Conference.
The serene setting of Camp Oak Hill gave us the space to spend sweet time with each other and the Lord this past weekend!
Know a Potential Capital Fellow?
We are actively building Season Seventeen! If you know a college senior or recent graduate that would benefit from this program, please let them know about our upcoming informational webinars. About Capital Fellows. Capital Fellows is an advanced leadership and discipleship program for recent college graduates. Through graduate courses, a paid internship, one-on-one mentoring and many leadership and community service opportunities, fellows develop and apply their gifts in real-world situations while learning to integrate a Christian worldview into all areas of life. Capital Fellows is a unique opportunity to live and work in the Washington DC area and to be an active member of a supportive community that seeks to serve the city with the love of Christ. It is also a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience in the workplace while deeply exploring God’s design for us as workers and contributors to human flourishing.
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Thank you for praying for the Capital Fellows each week!
In the Capital Fellows weekly discussion time, called Capital Commons, we work through four topics: Vocation, Servanthood, Community, and Leadership. We are currently working on Servanthood. Servanthood can be challenging because we are so easily enamored by our own situation, comfort, and preferences. Serving the people that God has actually placed in our lives, rather than talking about service in a conceptual way, can be challenging. Please pray that the Capital Fellows - and all of us - would be given new eyes to see the needs immediately around them/us and the willingness to step in serve despite discomfort and reluctance.
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About The Fellows Initiative
Capital Fellows is part of a network of similar programs across the country. This network is called The Fellows Initiative. There are 34 Fellows programs in TFI, roughly 3,000 alumni living around the world, and more Fellows programs on the way.
If you know a church in the US or Canada that would benefit from joining TFI by launching a new Fellows program. Please contact TFI by visiting their website.
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