My dear friends,
By virtue of our relationship with Jesus Christ many have adopted the name Christian – one who belongs to Christ and is committed to serve him in spirit and in truth. Followers of Christ must be willing to take risks – risks that are often rather scary. Risky experiences are vital in the process of spiritual growth and maturity. Hence, it is imperative that believers take leaps of faith in order to establish and strengthen their Christian identity.
To get to the Promised Land, the Israelites had to cross the River Jordan at flood tide. It must have made the strongest heart skip a beat. God had promised that when the feet of the priests carrying the ark stepped into the water, it would roll back. Can you imagine their thoughts and the questions asked? “Why can’t we wait until the tide goes down? Why must I be the first to cross? What if the water does not roll back and I drown”? These are pertinent questions though covered with fear. St. Paul reminds us that “God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind,” (II Tim. 1:7 KJV)
Being afraid to launch out into the deep, to risk one’s life or that of family and friends in the pursuit of a life that is guided by the principles and virtues of Christ can paralyze and impoverish us. Fear can severely retard our progress in the Christian life. It can make us paranoid: too afraid to take risks. There is a short and steep step between prudence and paranoia. Prudence prepares and plans: paranoia panics. Prudence calculates the risks and takes the plunge: paranoia never enters the water.
If we as members of God’s Holy Church are to reach our God-ordained destiny, if spiritual growth is to be developed and we are to maintain fellowship with Christ, we must stop holding back, obey our Lord and step into the water. The moment we comply, doors will be opened and resources will be released where there now seems to be only shortage. God promised to provide the means and the method and the strength that will get us through moments of despair. So stand on his promise. He affirms that “when you pass through the waters I will be with you…for I am the Lord your
God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…do not fear, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:2-3,5 NRSV)
“Thro’ days of toil when heart doth fail, God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you.”
The Very Rev. Rudolph Smithen.