<image courtesy of iboy_daniel>
When it comes to taking those risky steps of faith, it can be difficult to know whether the ‘next step’ we see is our own desire or God’s leading for us. Scripture gives us a bit of a lens through which we can view those situations and determine whether or not ‘now is the time to take the leap. We’ve already asked, “Have I Put First Things First”, and, “Have I Waited?” You can read the introduction here.
When it comes to taking those risky steps of faith, it can be hard to know whether the ‘next step’ we see is our own desire or God’s leading for us. Scripture gives us a bit of a lens through which we can view those situations and ask if ‘now is the time’ to take the leap. We’ve already discussed asking “Are First Things First” and “Have I Waited.”
As Joshua and the people prepare for their crossing of the River Jordan, it’s obvious the risk hasn’t been exaggerated. Here’s what happens as they finally take the step of crossing the river:
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 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, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, 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. 17 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.
That is an incredible image: stepping in, the water stopping, and standing firm as the people crossed. Imagine what it was like to be there and experience the hand of God in the moment; to recognize that this was part of what you were preparing for just days before.
The way these few verses read, it’s easy to think entering/crossing the river was a quick, easy task with no risk at all. But the truth is that the Jordan at flood stage is a dangerous place to be. Because of a system of channels and locks on top of the high level of the water, there would have been a swift current with the river. The priests who had to first step into the water could easily have been swept away… and, some scholars suggest their first step could have put them ‘in over their heads’ with the steep banks of the river in places. But their duty as priests meant they wouldn’t leave the ark regardless of their personal circumstance (as in, “staying with the Ark even if it meant traveling downriver with it and drowning).
The point is, this ‘step of faith’ could have literally cost them everything. Look at this from the perspective of Joshua and the priests: the entire nation is hoping this works. The enemy on the other side of the river is watching, hoping it doesn’t. Everything was on the line: the future of the nation, their own pride, their hope, the very lives if the priests… and for Joshua, all of his credibility, his very ability to lead, was at stake.
That’s the way it is with many of the decisions we face in life… but it’s especially true when it comes to following Jesus—he’s pretty candid with us that following him will cost us everything. So he urges us to count the cost. And we see in Joshua that for those participating in all of this, the potential cost was astronomical.
“Counting the cost” doesn’t mean allowing fear to enter into our thinking and drive us, but it does mean being aware and informed, understanding consequences and thinking long-term (the ‘immediate’ step was into the river, but it was just one of many steps of faith which would be required to see the nation of Israel established).
On the one hand, taking the faith-step moves us to a place where we risk everything. But on the other hand it moves us to a place where we find great security, knowing that the same God who led us to the place of faith will see us through it. It seems for us, we must count the cost, and knowing what could be, we move… trusting that God will be God, and his Great Name will be praised regardless of the outcome.
Have you counted the cost?