<image courtesy of wallyg>
We’ve been asking the question of how to know when to take steps of faith—and finding answers by asking other questions.
Another question worth asking is the same as the title for this post:
HAVE I WAITED?
The people of Israel are getting ready to cross the Jordan River in order to begin conquering the land promised them in generations past. God has instructed them to cross the flooded Jordan. It’s obvious that this is the only next step from a strategic and logistical perspective.
2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
Even though they could see the land which was theirs; even though they knew what needed to be done to cross; even though everything was ‘obvious’ regarding next steps… everybody waited. For three days.
But those three days weren’t spent idly—there was a purpose in the waiting: the people were preparing themselves for what was ahead. Their journey wasn’t over yet, and though the land across the Jordan had been promised, it wouldn’t become theirs without a long and hard-fought military campaign. Mostly, though, they were waiting because they were going to be used by God (in a number of ways—but Scripture indicates that Israel was going to be used by God to execute his judgment on other nations and to bring his message).
A very important term in the above passage is ‘consecrate’—the same term used in reference to the Tabernacle… a very special place that only few could enter. The idea is something that is being set apart. The ‘translation’ of the instruction for the people is this: “God is going to use you, and you need to be ready,” or, “God is going to do something huge, and he wants you to get prepared.”
I know it’s been said before, but it bears repeating: our steps of faith have much less to do with us than they do with what God desires to do through us for his Name and the advancement of his Kingdom.
Again, for Joshua and the Israelites, there was no doubt what their next step was. But there was also no doubt that this same ‘next step’ was impossible if God wasn’t in it. They waited.
It’s a good lesson to learn, but not necessarily an easy leason to grasp. Before you leap—ask yourself if you’ve waited or if you’re moving impulsively. The truth is, God doesn’t lead is to our next step without preparing us first (not forgetting, of course, that he can, and often does, prepare us for ‘what’s next’ without us knowing that’s what is going on). What are you doing right now to allow yourself to be prepared? How are you taking time to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit? Are you faithful in the here-and-now? Are you serving faithfully where you are with what you have?
As counterintuitive as it may seem, sometimes the greatest act of faith is in the waiting rather than the stepping.