I think one of the things that it's easy to become nervous about as a Christian is just what God might ask of us. We spend a lot of time questioning whether we have what it takes to do what God calls us to, and that's an important question. But it's not the only question.
Before I get ahead of myself, let's just talk about this question today; we'll move on to the other one tomorrow.
Remember when God was leading His people from one land to another and He said things like, "As soon as you step into the water, it will recede and you'll walk through on dry land"? How hard does it have to be to be the guy up front in that pack, the first one to reach the river? How hard is it to be the guy who has to put his foot in the raging water and trust that God is going to do this miraculous thing that He's promised to do?
Look at how much trouble the disciples had. Jesus came walking to them on the water, but only one of them had the faith to ask to step out with Him. Eleven guys (at least) sat in the boat and didn't even consider stepping toe in the water. It didn't even occur to them. Peter even hesitated, which is why things didn't go well for him. It's hard to be the guy to go first.
And again when the disciples ran to see the empty tomb when the women said the body of Jesus was gone. Two disciples ran to the tomb to see what was happening, but one of them stopped short and one of them ran right in. It's hard to be the first guy in the tomb.
Over and over again, we see the people of God taking steps of faith that it's easy for us to underestimate. We read them, but we don't think about what it really means to be right there in the moment. Yet, we have our own moments, and we wonder if we are capable of doing the same kinds of things they did. Could we step foot into raging waters if God promised dry land was going to appear?
We think this has something to do with our faith, and in one sense, it does. In one sense, it is about how confident we are in the God that we believe in and how much we trust Him. On the other hand, every one of these is bigger than the person who did it.
Without that first guy, Israel doesn't cross out of Egypt. They don't enter into the Promised Land. If no one ever stuck their toes in that water, Israel is stuck forever; God's story - God's story and God's people - don't move without this act of faith. If the disciple runs to the tomb but doesn't go in, doesn't see the place where Jesus's body is supposed to lying, doesn't see the grave clothes folded up, how does he ever tell the story of the resurrection? He can't. God's people can't hold onto that because no one was willing to step in and become a witness.
So yes, we could say that our faith hinges on these kinds of moments, but it's more than just our faith; it's God's story. It's the people of God as they move through His creation. More than our own lives hang in the balance when God asks us to step out. And that's important, too. Because it means that even though one of our biggest fears is God asking us to do something on our own, we're never really alone. It's not about us. It's bigger. It's always bigger. There's always more at stake than some little test of our own faith, even when that's important, too.
I've just been thinking about what it means to be the first guy. What it means to be the one leading the way. What kind of faith it takes to step into a raging river on nothing but a promise.
But then, I'm thinking about something else, too. More on that tomorrow.