They come, like the Israelites in Joshua 3-4, instructed to stick a foot into the water, and trust God for the next step. Testing, poking and prodding Jesus’ calling on their lives, they show up. Missionary candidates, young men and women ready to brave snakes and spiders, peril and opposition to follow the grip of their hearts and go where God calls. They sit around tables and listen to nuts and bolts of missionary life and ministry, the first tentative toe testing becomes certainty. A long difficult process of logistics, fund raising, cultural adaptation and language learning begins, paradigms shift.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
His hand held hers, a tender demonstration of purpose forged unity.
“We could die for Christ,” he said. “We have to be willing to do that.”
In spite of the drastic sobriety of those words, his smile beamed. His face lighted. She sat beside him, black hair framed a face tranquil and eager. Brown eyes shone. Joy spilled from her like a promise. She nodded.
His statement underlined the decision, it drove them to where they sat together on a brown couch declaring the gospel of Jesus worthy of every physical hardship. Like a stake driven into the ground, the impact of those words in the stillness of the room expressed a priority far above tangibles. It confirmed something beyond the human experience of feel, taste and see.
There, in those words, importance of God’s intangible spiritual realm gave purpose to every breath.
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—”
His smile grew even bigger. He turned to gaze at her in wonder.
“She said that to me,” he explained. “I should be saying that to her. She said it to me.”
The awe of a mighty King’s choosing unworthy servants for Kingdom work is both humbling and uplifting, fearful and treasured.
I sense it in the wariness of others in the room, listening to conversations, inserting insecurities, waiting and wondering, is it too hard? What am I getting into? Will we make it? What if I’m single all my life? Will our marriage survive? Will our children be damaged?
The call to step forward by faith onto foreign soil, to shift focus, to give up what can’t be kept, does not come without a struggle. Sometimes it’s like a child writhing in the gentle arms of a father, screaming for release. But, submitted surrender brings after-storm-calm.
When God’s people were given orders in Joshua 3 to follow the ark of the covenant, they obeyed. God in His mercy provided direction when they were going where they had never been before. God proves Himself over and over in the crossroads of our lives, even though He has no need to do so.
“You shall know, that the living God is among you…“ he told His people.
With the Jordan at flood stage, the priests stepped in as God directed. As soon as their feet touched the water’s edge, the water upstream stopped flowing. But, they had to get their feet into the water first.
He still asks us to go in faith, even when it means stepping into angry floodwater.
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5: 6-8; ESV.
It is one of my favorite things, this busy week of new missionary candidates stepping into water, drinking in information and devouring ideas. It reminds me of my past, years far from home with Jesus’ passion burning in my heart for another people and place. It renews in me the certainty of God’s faithfulness. It begs my obedience where He has placed me today and assures me He will continue the cycle of calling and preparing.
And, it always reminds me to make sure my feet are wet. Because, with each step of faith He proves, He is worthy.