Walking on Dry Ground

In my One Year Bible I’m currently reading through Joshua. One day last week I read the story about when the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and every time I hear or read it I just think it’s so cool.

It’s one of those stories that I’d heard as a kid and the emphasis was on the miracle of the waters parting, which is certainly cool. But it wasn’t until a sermon a few months ago that I was clued into another miracle in these stories: they walked on dry land.

And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. Joshua 3:17 (KJV)

He didn’t just part the waters, leaving behind a muddy, mucky mess to trudge through. The Israelites walked on dry land. Isn’t that just awesome? He thinks of everything!

I can sort of imagine what this must have looked like to the Israelites because I’ve seen a river disappear and leave a dry bed. Not an instantaneous miracle, but  I have seen a river that is flowing along just fine all of the sudden drain into a hole in the ground. It’s called the Lost River. It’s called lost because a portion of it disappears into underground caves for several miles. When there’s heavy rains, the underground caves fill up and water fills the riverbed. But most of the time the riverbed is dry. So on this hike, we walked in the dry part up to the point where we could see water, and it was just crazy to see. We were standing next to a seemingly small  sink hole where you could actually hear the water draining, like the sound of water draining out of a bathtub.

A snippet from the newspaper article I wrote about it back then:

Orange County’s 90-mile Lost River isn’t really lost. In fact, geologists and geographers have known its exact location since the early 1800s.

Roads in Washington and Lawrence counties run along beside it or cross over it on bridges. Most of the crossings are marked with green “Lost River” signs.

The mystery of Lost River is finding the water.

For 23 miles the riverbed is dry due to sinkholes in the limestone that drop the water into underground caves.

At this point the river is flowing fast, but with no more inlets and more and more sinkholes in its bed, the water will soon disappear.

At what [is called] the terminus zone, the water drains into underground caverns. It’s not a large waterfall or a bottomless pit but two holes in the bed that catch the flow and swirl it underneath the land.

Observers can hear the water as it slurps downward. …

Within 10 to 15 feet of the last two sinks, the fast-flowing river is gone and all that sits is dry culvert.

For 23 miles the bed is dry, filled with fallen trees and brush, while the river runs below it.

Miles away at Wesley Chapel’s Gulf, or Elrod’s Gulf, the river momentarily reappears in a deep basin below a 90-foot bluff. Cavers can see an underground portion of the river in a 50-foot deep cave located across from the Gulf.

Finally, at the Orangeville Rise, the river runs strong again on the surface, with water coming in from three springs. The springs are not leaping from the ground like geysers but instead making small bubbles and ripples as the water flows in.

Dye tests have confirmed that water from the first half of the river is the same water that rises in Orangeville. The fluorescent dye is injected at one end and comes out at the other.


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