Taking the Next Step
…the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
What is stopping you from taking that next step? What is it that is making you hold back from boldly moving forward? Is it the size of the task? Is it the doubting of friends and family? Is it the fear of failure? Is it the security of the familiar? There you stand on the doorstep of a great opportunity brilliantly disguised as an impossible situation.
This was the situation of the children of Israel on the edge of entering the Promised Land. In Joshua three, the Israelites are looking across to Canaan with the River Jordan at flood level standing in their way (Josh. 3:1-17). The river's edge was becoming a swamp (Josh. 3:15). It seems that God had brought them to the east bank of the river Jordan at a most unpropitious time. The more they looked the more impossible the crossing seemed. No boats, no bridges, no way!
Faced with this improbable and impossible situation, God tells the Israelites to take a step of faith by following the priests who bear the ark into the river (Josh. 3:11ff). God promises them that if they will march forward by faith in obedience to Him, that as soon their feet rest in the waters of the river Jordan, He will damn up the river, enabling them to cross, not unlike the Rea Sea episode (Josh. 3:13-16; Ex. 14:15-16). Trusting God, they did take that next step towards Canaan. Passing through the waters, God proved that He was with them and for them in a most marvelous way (Isa. 43:2).
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Well, this story teaches us that there are no God-sized solutions until we get our feet wet, in boldly and believingly taking the next step in what we know to be the will of God for us. Heaven moves to help when we step out in faith to obey. Focusing on the Ark, that is looking to the Lord is good (Josh. 3:11). Sanctifying yourself, that is prayerfully preparing is good (Josh. 3:5). But they are not enough, for we must also be willing to get our feet wet in bold action (Josh. 3:13). If we are going to do anything for God and God for us, we must take that first step into the swelling tide, showing our faith to be large, and our God to be big. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and without God things remain impossible (Heb. 11:6).
In 1994, June and I decided to pack up and leave N. Ireland with our three small daughters for the Master's Seminary. It was a big and bold move. But God encouraged us with a paraphrase of the words in Proverbs 4:12: "As you go the way shall open up to you." As a trustee of that school today, God has proved that promise to us in an unbelievable way. But it all started with a step of faith. Go get your feet wet!