Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3 v 5
One of the favourite stories in the New Testament concerns Peter, who stepped out of the boat into the raging sea when Jesus invited him to walk on the water with Him. So ‘Step out of the boat’ has come to mean ‘Take a step of faith and watch what God will do.’ A similar principle is at work here. Joshua was instructed ‘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.'” (v 8)
Get the picture? The river was in full flood (v 15), and the priests are told to walk straight into it! It is just the same picture we get of Peter centuries later. And like Peter, they do what God says to them.
That first step of obedience to God is very often the hardest step of all to take. I have wondered before how the servants at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee felt when Jesus told them to, “Fill the jars with water”; and then “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” (John 2 vv 7-8). What might have seemed a foolish step to them turned out to be a demonstration of the power of God.
That’s the amazing thing about taking steps of faith that might appear crazy. At the back of our minds (or even at the very front!) is the unspoken, half-formed, hesitating question ‘What if … ?’ Just supposing nothing happens! What if the priests carrying the Ark just got thoroughly wet and miserable, or Peter drowned immediately, or the servants had served up plain cold water? ‘What if .. ‘ looms mighty large in our minds very often!
I don’t know about you, but I find this a hugely difficult area of faith and belief. How can I be sure that God has spoken to me? Or is what I hope is a step of faith simply a crazy moment of selfish ambition?
For reflection: Is God speaking directly to you, or others you know, about taking an unusual step of faith that might prove costly if you are not acting within God’s purposes? What will you do to make sure?