The First Step


“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet 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…” Joshua 3:15-16

God gave His people the command to cross through the Jordan River in Joshua 3:8, “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.”

The river did not stop flowing when the Israelites reached the Jordan River.

First, they had to step into it. 

“Go and stand in the river.”

Then that’s when the miracle happened. That’s when the water stopped flowing and piled up in a heap. That’s when the Israelites were able to cross over on dry ground.

God acts on obedience.

Obedience can be difficult.

I’m sure the Jordan River was intimidating. Joshua 3:15, “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.”

Have you ever experienced a flood?

Flood waters can be high, fast, fierce–scary!

And yet, when God tells us to step out into them, must we obey?

Obedience often conflicts with our feelings.

We don’t always feel like being obedient to what God tells us to do. Most of the time our flesh wants to do the very opposite.

We are like Paul in Romans 7:18-20, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

A beautiful example of taking that first step of obedience is Corrie ten Boom. She and her family had been arrested for concealing Jews in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland.

After the war, Corrie was speaking at a church on the subject of forgiveness. At the end of the service, a man walked up to her. As he approached, her heart began to race. She recognized him. This man had been a guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp where she and her sister were sent—the very place where her sister had died.

He began to share with her that after the war, he had become a Christian. He said that he was so thankful that God had forgiven him for all the terrible things he had done. But then he stretched out his hand toward her and asked, “Will you forgive me?”

Here is what happened in her own words.

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it–I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

“Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

~The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom



Hard obedience.

But oh, what beautiful blessings await us in the act of obeying!

When we move past our feelings and move forward in obedience.

When we step off the edge of Jordan’s shore and into the mighty flood waters.

That’s when the miracle happens.

That’s when the waters part and we cross over on the dry ground of God’s blessing.

The first step might be the hardest, but it’s totally worth it!

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