First Steps

“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ “

The land was theirs to be had. There was just one thing — they were on the wrong side of the river. The Jordan River. At flood level.

The Israelites had been told the land belonged to them. They had only to claim it. For God had promised. And when God makes a promise, it’s as good as done. Still, the fact remained that they had yet to set foot on that land. The land that was theirs. The one just over the river.

And someone had to take the first step.

The Lord had told Joshua

“When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD — the Lord of all the earth — set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” Joshua 3:11-13, NIV

Still, when the time came to put feet to their faith — the faith that told them God would deliver what He’d promised – I have to wonder how it felt. Were they afraid? They didn’t know how long that ark-of-the-covenant/twelve-preist dam would hold. Did moms and dads regret not enrolling little Levi in swimming lessons last summer? Did the women lay awake that night thinking through the logistics of getting each one of their children safely across the flood level Jordan? I mean, they knew the “the LORD (would) do amazing things among (them)” (Joshua 3:5, NIV) when they set out to cross the river. But did the lack of details frighten them?

Maybe you can relate.

God has called you to help orphans. He’s given you a passion for it. And a concrete way to do it. He’s even given a promise that says He is able to do more than we can ever possibly imagine (Eph. 3:20). But still, there is a lot of training to be done. And it’s stinkin’ cold outside! And life is busy. And it’s hard to find the time to walk or run those 6-8 miles this week, let alone the many miles that must be run before race day. The details are not clear. And maybe that’s a little bit (or a lot) scary for you.

Here’s the thing about the Israelites, though. They went anyway. They took that first step. Right smack into the water.

And that’s when the miracle happened!

“So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away . . . So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” Joshua 3:14-17, NIV (emphasis mine)

They didn’t get to see the miraculous hand of God hold back the water until they took that first step in. And I imagine those first steps to be among the most courageous steps those priests had taken up to that point in their lives.

Just like these first few miles of training are for us. It takes courage to trust that God will provide the resources we need to complete the training and make it to race day. It takes courage to believe that He will use us to help free children in Southeast Asia who are enslaved by all sorts of disgusting evils. But if we don’t take those first few steps, we just might miss the miracle that He’s waiting to unleash.

And so we have to take those first steps. So that we can see God’s hand do the work He wants to do. So we can witness that beyond-imagination kind of God do His beyond-imagination kind of work.

Today’s Prayer Focus: Pray for God’s hand to work in such a mighty way through our team that the only explanation could be “It had to be God!”

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