There was no doubt that it was a dangerous endeavor. At this time of year the river was in flood stage, in some places even white-water kind of flooded. I can almost hear the river's roar, and close behind it the thousands upon thousands muttering as they waited on the banks, backed up for miles. Joshua was telling them they needed to cross the river. He was standing where they will step off into the rushing water and carry the Ark of the Covenant across to the other side. Instructions were clear, and yet... Who in their right mind would take that first step, down the embankment and into the tumult that would surely sweep them away? This was not a gentle slope to the water's edge, it was a cliff! Had Josh been too long in the sun? What was in his water skin anyway? At least their certain doom would be swift...
When Joshua quit his speech, when the priests carrying the Ark took that first harrowing step and all that water fled back from their sandaled feet like scared rabbits, when the people followed those priests into the dry bed and even took time to set up twelve large stones, that was the moment I came to understand faith. If courage is doing it despite the fear you feel, faith is believing you can do it when it makes no sense.
There are plenty in this big, bad world that will tell you faith is a crutch, that faith is for the weak-minded, the dolts among us, those who aren't intelligent enough to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a go of it. Nietzsche said "Faith: not wanting to know what is true." There are plenty who agree with him. I would not be one of them.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase," said Martin Luther King, Jr. Seems like a fitting quote here, doesn't it? Faith isn't the denial of truth, in fact it is just the opposite. Faith is understanding that we don't yet have the whole truth on which to base many of our decisions. Faith is trusting that when God tells us to act, He knows the plan in its entirety and we are simply asked to follow Him. God doesn't always tell us the next step because we will surely argue. Faith takes humility, trust and self-awareness beyond our pride. To have faith you need to sit down, shut up and hang on.
When you have faith you accept the death of a child, not without pain in your soul forever, but that it somehow has a greater purpose. When you have faith you understand that you may never be afforded the answer to the question, "What is that purpose?" When you have faith you trust that God will provide a way when every path you can discern looks closed to you. When you have faith you keep on the path He set you on because the fruit it produces will reap a harvest you cannot conceive. Faith takes immeasurable strength.
Faith removes from us the need to have a sense of control over our every step. We can choose to look at life from a perspective of Faith in God and the love of His Son, or we can look at it from our own sufficiency. Let me tell you: If I have to be the only one to count on around here, there's trouble brewing!
Being introduced to the concept of faith has taught me that I am not now, nor have I ever been in control. It has also taught me that I am absolutely ok with that. Faith becomes the seed of my peace at the feet of Jesus. It removes my doubt and stands me on the slippery precipice, taking confident steps off the banks of earthly safety and into the rushing greatness of His heavenly plan. Truthfully, where else could I possibly want to be? Safety is great, y'all, but there isn't joy without some risk.
I have a quote on my desk from this guy. He says, "Your real quest, when it happens, will feel increasingly terrifying. It is testing your resolve." I agree. When God asks you to step into the true space of who He wants me to be my first reaction is to freak out! How? What? When? I can't! But then God is gracious again and reminds me: He will show me the way. I have only to trust Him with my faith. I can believe what He says is true, even when I don't understand it. After all, I get on airplanes and I don't understand them either.