It’s so funny how different children can be. My youngest learned to walk around the time she was 13mo, but there isn’t one singular day I can point to as the day she learned to walk. It started as a series of one or two steps before falling then, slowly over the span of a few weeks led to increasingly more steps and in a few months walking. My son, was a little different. I can tell you the exact day and time he learned to walk. The emotions I felt seeing him take those first steps are still so palpable almost 7 years later. Hunter took his first, solo steps around 4 in the afternoon on Dec 7; 3 days before his 15-month birthday. Before then, he would walk good distances holding onto the tip of one of my fingers, but the moment he let go or I moved my hand, he’d immediately sit down and crawl-refusing to take a step on his own for fear he might fall. Almost 8 years later, he’s still a cautious kid. He wants to ensure success before beginning a project. While he is so gifted in so many areas, this one weakness, holds him back from growing and experiencing as much life as possible. The ironic thing, is that as adults, we are often exactly like my precious little one, refusing to walk forward without complete assurance of success from God. But that’s not how He works. That’s not how faith works. You must take the step before you see the waters part.
As God prepares to elevate Joshua in the eyes of the people after the passing of Moses, God asks Joshua and the priests to follow some specific instructions.
Joshua 3:8b, 13, and 17 “When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan. (13) When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord of all the Earth shall rest in the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan coming down from above shall be cut off, and they shall stand in one heap. (17) And while all Israel passed on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”
When the Israelites are fleeing Egypt headed for the promise land, God parts the Red Sea to allow the people to cross over on dry land. Now, 40 years later as the people are leaving the wilderness and headed into the Promise Land, God again parts the water; this time the Jordan River, and allows this generation to also cross on dry land-reminiscent of their ancestors. It’s easy to read past these verses as simply another miracle and not look deeper. At the time of this crossing, the banks of the Jordan River are overflowing. There is a strong current running in the water from the Spring rains during early harvest. I’m not sure about you, but I can’t imagine being the priests who must choose to take the first steps into the water carrying the Ark of the Covenant. You are carrying something so holy you had to consecrate yourself first and told God will part the waters. You follow all instructions, you pick up the ark, you begin walking towards the river watching, no doubt praying, but the waters aren’t drying up, they aren’t parting, the river is not slowing down. In a few steps, you reach a cross roads. Do you take your first step into the roaring waters and trust God will do as He said He would, do you ask for someone else to take your place, set the ark down and wait for the waters to part first? Or do you trust and walk forward?
The priests, scared or not, took the step. I’ve always wondered how far they got. How long they walked before they began to see the waters recede and dry land appear. Was it right away? Did they have to keep walking in with the water covering their feet and legs? I don’t know. I do know, God was honored by their obedient faith and as a result, the 40-year journey ended as they inherited their promised land.
So, I ask you. What has God been asking you to do that you haven’t begun yet because you’re waiting for the waters to part first. Has God given you the first step and is He still waiting on your faithful obedience so that He can give you the next? There are examples after examples in the Bible that affirm this is how God works. He gives us enough provision, instruction, faith for each day. He provides what we need to obey today and take the step. It’s up to us to choose to follow Him. We honor him and open the door to His blessings in our lives when we do just that and TRUST Him and take the step so that we, too, can enter our Promised Land.