Step out

Faith is taking the first step into the unknown.

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Our group leaders described it as a bonding activity. The rest of us just stared in disbelief. Did they really expect us to go to the rock ledge, allow ourselves to fall off and hope that they would catch us at the bottom?

We were camping in the Blue Mountains (NSW) and we thought we were prepared for everything. We had sleeping bags, insect repellent, even a stash of instant noodles. What we didn’t have were bubble suits for protection or tranquillisers for emergency surgery. Those weren’t on the “What to Bring” list!

“You’ll be fine,” one leader said reassuringly, seeing the fear in our faces. “It’s not really that high.”

We looked at the ledge again. Really? Not that high? Then he could go first.

“Oh, I’m not going to do the fall—I’m going to help catch you,” he explained.

Like a flock of sheep on its way to the slaughterhouse, we were somehow shepherded up the hill and led to the ledge. One by one, we reluctantly turned our backs and let ourselves fall. As promised, we were caught. And although we felt slightly shaky afterwards, we survived.

I don’t know whether this activity turned out to be the bonding experience our group leaders had hoped for. But it did teach me an important lesson.

The objective of the activity was to build trust—we had to have at least a little faith that the leaders would catch us. There weren’t any tangible reassurances like ropes or harnesses to count on. But it wasn’t until we made conscious decisions to participate in the activity that our faith was put into action. And it was only by making those decisions that the group leaders were able to demonstrate they were trustworthy and able to catch us.

It reminds me of the experience of Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan River during its flood stage (Joshua 3:14-17). They had to cross the Jordan to get to Canaan, their long-awaited Promised Land. I used to think this was a similar story to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. But there’s actually a significant difference. When the Israelites were fleeing Egypt, the Red Sea was parted before they crossed. When they were at the Jordan, the priests had to physically step into the water before it ceased to flow. They literally had to take a step of faith so that God could prove He was faithful. 

"They literally had to take a step of faith so that God could prove He was faithful."

A few months ago, my pastor and his wife asked me to accompany them on a trip to Romania. I would have the opportunity to preach my first evangelistic campaign, working in conjunction with a local church. Accustomed to praying that God would open and close doors where He saw fit, I was confused when more doors seemed to be closing than opening. If I were waiting for a sign from God, it looked like Romania was the last place I should go to!

I was assigned to a small church in Apalina with a predominantly Roma community. Viewed as scam artists, thieves and general outcasts, Romanian gypsies are often rejected by the rest of society. Incidentally this made them the ideal people to listen to the gospel—they were hungry for knowledge of a God who created, loved and valued them.

The church was packed full most nights. An average of more than 20 non-Adventists consistently attended throughout the campaign. At least eight people and their families stood up for baptism during my appeal. And on the final night I was brought to tears as two of the men testified how knowing Jesus had changed their lives.

As I reflect on the many blessings I received from this trip, I think about how much I would have missed out on if I hadn’t gone. I’m thankful that I chose to step out in faith. God proved that He is faithful.

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