Ephesians 3: 20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Joshua 3: 5-8
Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’
Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.’ So they took it up and went ahead of them.
And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so that they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 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.”’
Recently I've found myself often saying the same thing to our little four year old son. He'll ask me to do something for him, like put on his shoes, and I'll respond: "If you can do it, I'm not doing it for you."
I think in our relationship with God, sometimes we want Him to do everything for us, without us having to expend any effort, risk or faith ourselves. That's not how it works. What I have found is that frequently the Lord will say: "When you move, I'll move. You do all you can do, and leave me to do that which only I can do."
That's what we find here in Joshua 3. God's people have been living the same year 40 times. Life in the wilderness was all one generation knew, but this was never God's plan or intention for them. He always had so much more. Now, after all these years of wandering and waiting, they're standing on the edge of inheriting the promise. Literally all that separates them from the Promised Land is the River Jordan, which just happens to be in flood. Look at what we read:
"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." (v. 5)
"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)
God was going to do amazing things, but they had an active and crucial part to play in seeing the miracle come to pass.
First of all they had to "consecrate themselves", that is, devote themselves fully and completely to the Lord. Surrender themselves in full abandon to Him. Only they could do that. God couldn't do it for them.
Then God says: "When you reach the edge of the river, step into it."
Later we see what God would do in response to their action:
"....as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." (v. 13)
Now, if I had been one of the priests, I'd probably have said something like this: "God, why don't you first stop the water flowing and then I'll step into it."
That wasn't how it was going to be. They had to make the first move, take the first literal step of faith. Their participation was required if the miracle was going to happen.
Many of us spend our life at the edge, sensing, even seeing, that God has so much more for us. However, we refuse to take that one bold step. Fear of the unknown, uncertainty about the future, concern about what others will think, the risk of failure - these all keep us at the edge. Yet, how much are we risking by not stepping out? What are we missing because we cling to the comfortable, secure and familiar? On the edge you watch others experiencing what you dream of doing yourself, you live vicariously through other people's stories, with the deep seated feeling: "There has to be more."
If we do step in, it will be scary, we might get wet, the torrent might feel too strong. Yet, it's only in the river that we will experience the greatest power that God has made available. In the river we will see Him do the impossible. You will never witness amazing things until you leave the edges.
In 2017, why not step in? Take the plunge, do something a little risky, put something out there for God to work with, make yourself vulnerable, go somewhere that your own power isn’t enough. The only thing more dangerous than stepping into the river is staying at the edge and never experiencing all that God has made available for you.