Fireman. Princess. Rockstar. Ninja. We all had a dream when we were kids. It was healthy. It was good for us. Some people you know are still pursuing that childhood dream. Others have traded them, like a worn out baseball card, for a different dream. Whatever the case is with you, at some point in your life you begin to notice that your passion, gifts, experiences, and opportunities are converging. Often, it occurs some time after people surrender their lives totally to Jesus. It’s as though the haze starts to part on a cloudy night. Star after star of the constellation that tells your story begin to creep into view. If that hasn’t happened to you, it will. Don’t worry about it.
Somehow, when you are okay not being comfortable or “successful” by everyone else’s standards, and you can be content just loving Jesus and people, your dream is liberated. It’s a wonderful, exhilarating experience. Your next realization, however, is unsettling, terrifying, almost crippling. It’s the sudden comprehension of the incredible risks that you are going to have to make and the sacrifices that your dream is going to cost you. The next character in our Risky Business trilogy knew those moments very well.
Meet Joshua: protege of the first leader the nation of Israel has ever had. At the point in which we join him, he’s having one of those realizations. Forty years of walking circles in the desert have brought him and his people back to the banks of the Jordan River. The dream of living in the promised land is finally so close they can smell it. But just the other day, the unthinkable happened. Moses, the man responsible for leading them out of Egypt, giving them the law, and binding them into a people, literally vanished. That left Joshua in charge of corralling this ragtag band of nomads and marching them into Canaan. Among all his other problems, there is an obvious one stopping him and the Israelites in their tracks. The wide, surging Jordan River is blocking the entrance to the promised land like a death-star force-field. Nobody is going anywhere as long as its in the way.
This is where God joins in on Joshua’s mental conversation. He starts with “Do not be afraid” and says it over and over again throughout the rest of his dialogue with Joshua. He assures him, “I will be with you just like I was with Moses.” He helps Joshua envision that dream again and peps him up like a trainer peps his fighter up between rounds. Then, he gives Joshua the plan. “Get everyone ready to cross and march towards the river,” he says. “Have my priests carry my ark and walk ahead of everyone. Have them wade into the river. When you do that, I will pin it back and you can walk across into the promised land.”
You may have noticed a significant difference between God’s instructions to Moses at the Red Sea and his instructions to Joshua at the Jordan River. When Moses raised his staff, he was on the bank of the water. God split the sea and the Israelites walked across without so much as a soggy sandal. When Joshua crossed the Jordan, God told him to start walking. The priests waded into the river. Joshua’s credibility, his confidence, and his hopes were on the line. When Moses stepped up to the Red Sea, he was leading people out of slavery. God delivered them from their circumstances. But when Joshua stepped up to the Jordan River, God was no longer delivering them. He was shaping them into people who overcome obstacles. The dream was right in front of them, but if they wanted to live that dream, they had to take the risk of failure, humiliation, poverty, and even death. By taking that risk, they left behind their old method of life: dependence on God to deliver them from their circumstances. They crossed over to become a people who, through trust in God, conquer their circumstances and see their dream become reality.
So here’s what I have to say to you. Your dream is in Christ. If you have never met him, take the risk and engage him. He will come through, I promise you. And if you have met him and found your dream. Here’s my message to you. I know so many Christians who never make this transition. They keep waiting and praying. Their dream is burning a hole in their heart. The invitation is open and God is already at work on the other side of the river, but they are still standing on the banks. They are waiting for God to part the water and he is just waiting for them to start walking. Stop waiting. Start walking.