Matthew 21:21-22 I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.
We all have faith. We go to a doctor we hardly know. He hands us a prescription we cannot read. We take that prescription to a pharmacist we have never met. He gives us a medication we do not recognize or understand and we take it … all in faith. Faith in God does not come all at once. Faith is a step-by-step process that begins with one small step and increases as we go. An Old Testament story found in Joshua 3 illustrates this truth.
The Israelites are camped on the bank of the Jordan River. Forty years earlier, they had escaped from Egypt and have been wandering around in the wilderness ever since. All of their needs have been met by God. They have seen miracle after miracle and now they can see Canaan, the Promised Land. However, there is a problem.
A huge river stands between them and the Promised Land and there is no way around it. To make things worse, it is flood season and the usual places to cross are covered with deep, rushing water. The Israelites knew God could stop the river right before their eyes or He could throw a bridge across it – but He doesn’t. Instead, He gives Joshua some very strange orders.
- First order
The people are to keep an eye on the Ark of the Covenant.
- Second order
As soon as they see the priests carrying the Ark, the people are to fall in behind them.
- Third order
Joshua tells the people to expect amazing things to happen.
- Fourth order
Joshua commands the priests to pick up the Ark and stand in the river.
God told His people that He would make a dry path through the river but the priests had never seen that happen. In fact, they hadn’t even been born when the Red Sea was parted and there were no reruns of the Ten Commandments at the local Wilderness Theater. The Israelites had spent their entire adult lives in the wilderness and finally, they could see a way out. Oh, and one more problem – the priests couldn’t swim. This was probably the first river they had even been close to in their lives. I can imagine their fear and questions. God was asking them to step out in faith as never before.
I don’t imagine the Israelites had a great deal of faith in God at that moment, but they had just enough faith to take that first step. And that was enough.
Joshua 3:15-17 During harvest the Jordan overflows its banks. When the priests carrying the Ark came to the edge of the river and stepped into the water, the water upstream stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap. So the people crossed over.
Notice that God did nothing until those toes touched the water. That first step was all God needed to see. Many tymes, we won’t take the first step because we’re afraid we won’t be able to make the whole journey.
Don’t wait until you believe it all.
Don’t wait until you can see it all.
Don’t wait until you understand it all.
Step out in childlike faith and put your trust in God. Some people say it doesn’t really matter where we place our faith, as long as our faith is real. I could not disagree more!
A United Press release told of a mid-western hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected. For 35 years, the medical staff and the patients had believed in this system, but it had never been attached to the city’s water main. The pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground — and then stopped. The expensive equipment was adequate for the building but it lacked the most important thing – water. Yes, their faith was real but it was dangerously misplaced.
Our faith is worthless unless it is placed in God alone. We have no hope apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One of my favorite worship songs says it beautifully: