Taking the First Step
The past week or so, I have been involved with many people who don’t seem to know what to do next. Now for those of you who are clients of mine, and wonder if I am talking about you, the answer is “no”. I am speaking about those people who are in trouble and are paralyzed by fear. But I am sure that everyone can relate to this at one time or another in their lives, so there still may be a lesson here for you! Because most of us, when we become overwhelmed, just don’t know which way to turn and what to do next. And we don’t do anything because we are concerned that we will make a bad move, perhaps because we lack confidence; or we don’t have enough information to make an informed decision. So, we get stuck.
One of my favorite Bible stories about this topic has to do with Joshua, the young companion of Moses. Joshua had prepared much of his young life studying under Moses. He watched the leadership of Moses, went with him on important missions, was actually commissioned into the service of God, and was the only person to accompany Moses to receive the ten commandments from God. In fact, when God visited Moses in the Tent of Meeting, Joshua was there. And the Tent of Meeting was where Moses went to commune privately with God – a very special place. Not only that, Joshua was a terrific aide to Moses – so good in fact, that he would later be chosen to lead the Israelites after the death of Moses.
As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, God told Moses that he (Moses) would not enter the land, but would die across the river before the crossing. Our story picks up in the first several chapters of the book of Joshua. Joshua – who had prepared virtually his entire life for this role of leadership, was afraid. In Joshua 1:5-7, God tells Joshua, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous….”
So, you see, the first thing God does is to encourage Joshua and affirm His commitment to Joshua. He says He will never leave Joshua; and then provides additional encouragement by telling Joshua to be strong and courageous. God repeats this commandment two additional times, so we know that it is really important. But Joshua is still a little concerned. After all, the river to be crossed was at flood stage, and historians believe that the depth of the river was more than 8′ deep one or two steps in. How were two million people going to cross and get to the Promised Land? After all, there were no bridges.
But God tells Joshua to get the people ready and to head to the river. In Joshua 3:6-7, God instructs Joshua, “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 this was scary stuff – people could drown in the roaring river at this time of year. But off they went toward the river’s edge – and you know what happened when they reached the edge of the water? In Joshua 3:15-16, we learn, “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.” So God stopped the water, just like when the people crossed the Red Sea during the escape from Egypt. And the priests stood on dry land in the middle of the riverbed while 2 million people passed by!
So, my encouragement tonight is to be strong and courageous. When you don’t know what to do, listen to God, and take the first step. God will take it from there. And my prayer is that you will trust God to guide your steps and that you will be able to move as God directs. So take the risk, and just trust….Have a great day with the Lord.