Imagine standing on the shore of a rushing river.
What do you see? How do you feel? Consider the sounds and the smells. Take a deep breath and contemplate the instructions from the Lord: step into the water. Really?!
Beneath your sandaled feet the sand squishes and splashes from the flowing water touch your ankles. The directions you’ve received leave no confusion — step in and walk to the other side — don’t swim, walk.
Uncertainty and courage accompany you as you step into the water. At first your feet experience the bite of the cool stream, but then, unexpectedly the waters stop flowing and the ground beneath your feet dries. No more soft muddy ground, only solid sand and pebbles rest below.
You step, again and again, reaching the other side of the river. Did you see that? It was unbelievable. Deeper faith in God abounds from obedience. Joshua and the Israelites miraculously cross the Jordan River during harvest season when the waters swelled. Joshua 3-4 recounts the story for us.
If I put myself in their sandals, I would have been tempted to stand on the shore to wait for the waters to part before stepping into the river. It’s running at flood stage! You know that God said to take one step, but the waters scare you. I bet hesitancy mixed with anticipation filled the Israelites who watched in wonder.
Only after God’s people obeyed and stepped into the water, following His explicit instructions, did the rushing water stop flowing and dry ground appear. God made a way for them to enter the Promised Land. It wasn’t until the people followed God’s directions that He moved.
How would God’s people enter the land set aside for them? Could God have parted the waters to show His greatness before the priests stepped into the waters? Definitely, but that would not have required any faith or obedience on the part of His people. He wanted them to step in, to risk everything. Would Israel do as commanded by the Lord?
In taking the step, they demonstrated obedience and faith in the certainty of God’s leadership, resulting in safe passage.
In what ways do obedience and faith wrap together in your life? Has God instructed you to take a step? Will you step in obedience, or sit and watch the water move past you in fear? God’s invitation to live obediently by faith requires just one step.
My soul resonates with the story of Joshua and the Israelites. Often uncertainty whirls around my feet like rushing water, creating doubt to trust God and step “into the water” in obedience. Questions flood my mind and heart. Similarly, I wonder if questions swirled in the Israelites’ heads too. Do you think we’ll all drown? What happens when we can’t touch the bottom anymore? Are we crazy to step into this muddy, sandy water? Is walking really an option here?
Thankfully, these kinds of questions did not prevent the Israelites from following God. Despite insecurities spinning within, they stepped out in obedience, trusting God, and in that moment the miraculous happened. The waters parted. The people of God crossed on dry ground. God faithfully provided for their journey.
I remember when the Holy Spirit urged Gary and I to put our house up for sale. It was four years ago, but I recall it like yesterday. For most looking on, the decision did not make sense. Yet, God was directing us to take a step as a family.
At first we experienced the parting of the waters while even “standing on the shore.” We got an offer before listing our home. However, two weeks later, the offer fell through.
God’s directions remained the same. Step.
The real adventure began; we stepped into the water, put our house on the market and trusted God’s leading. It was hard. It took 100 days. God provided a buyer and matured our family in the process. Together we grew in patience, trust, grace and faithfulness. By stepping in obedience, God helped us let go and taught us what depending upon Him looked like.
Where is God asking you to step?
• Reconcile with a family member or friend…Step.
• Sell one or more assets in your possession…Step.
• Store up treasures in heaven by distributing God’s provision…Step.
• Abandon worry and depend on God…Step.
• Submit to authority as a Christ-follower…Step.
• Commit to deeper Bible study or prayer…Step.
• Work without complaining…Step.
• Initiate spiritual conversations with a neighbor…Step.
• Apply for a new job…Step.
• Glorify God through work using your gifts, experience and passions…Step.
• Make that hard decision…Step.
• Serve others in love…Step.
Obedience and faith move together. As you obey by stepping into the proverbial water, your faith in God deepens and matures.
Step-by-step, obediently follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Only as you step, do you cultivate a bold, strong, powerful faith in God Almighty.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
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…’” 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…while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. Joshua 3:8, 15-17
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
J.I. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in our Walk with God. Ada, Michigan, 2005
Matt Batterson. Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God. New York, NY, 2017