Take The Next Step

Nov062017

As June and I visit the land of Israel with many members of my home church, the places I have studied in Scripture seem to come alive more than usual. The events that are chronicled from God’s Word and the lessons they have provided across the centuries are brought afresh to my mind.  This is especially true as I stand again on the shore of the Jordan River.

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 for the children of Israel on the verge of entering the Promised Land. In the third chapter of Joshua, the Israelites are looking across to Canaan with the River Jordan at flood stage standing in their way (Josh. 3:1-17). The river’s bank was becoming a swamp (Josh. 3:15). It seemed 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 Jordan, He will damn up the river, enabling them to cross on dry land, 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 will be 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, which is looking to the Lord, is good (Josh. 3:11). Sanctifying yourself, which 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 Northern 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!