A couple weeks ago I (Kim) joined thousands of other women around the world as we participated in the IF:Gathering. Throughout the weekend we looked at Joshua and his steps of faith as he took the Israelites from the desert into God's Promised Land.
"The Lord said to Joshua... Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites... As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you... Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it... Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:1-9)
To the Israelites, the Promised Land was full of bounty and blessings, but it was also full of giants and fortified cities. To the human eye, it was impractical and unrealistic to believe that they would be able to overtake the land. BUT... God promised that if they kept their eyes on Him and obeyed his commands, the land would be given to them. 40 years previous, the Israelites' fear prevented them from the land God has promised and forced them back into the desert. This time, they were determined to BELIEVE what God has promised them would come to be.
The command God gave was to set foot in the Jordan River. Though the river was at flood stage and would normally have been impassable, God would part the water and allow the Israelites to walk across and into the land God had promised. But God didn't part the water BEFORE they were to walk across. He didn't see their fear and show them the dry path, reassuring them that it would be safe. No, the people of Israel needed to OBEY first. They were the ones that had to take the first step into the river. Then God would show them the path.
Sometimes I want God to reassure me that everything is going to be ok BEFORE I agree to what God is calling me to. I want to see the clear path ahead and know that it's "safe" and won't shake me too much. But consistently throughout scripture, that's not how God works. God never promises a pain-free, easy life if we obey Him. But God does promise that he will be faithful. It may not "make sense" to the human mind, but to God, it makes perfect sense. As God promised to Joshua, he promises to us today, "Be strong and courageous... For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
As we ended the IF:Gathering, we were all encouraged to take a rock and write on that rock the next step that God is calling us to. Just as Joshua marked the crossing of the Jordan with a pile of rocks in order to remember God's faithfulness in that place, we were encouraged to mark what God was speaking to us. For me (and for my family), our "next step" is foster care. God has been speaking this to me for a long time. I was in high school the first time God started working on my heart for this "next step". Bethany Christian Services would send out a brochure with faces of children who were in need of homes. I remember sitting in the kitchen of my family's cottage, holding that brochure, looking into the faces of these children, and wondering how in the world anyone could say "no" to them. I was born into an affluent, educated family. The world was full of possibilities to me. Why were these kids given such a drastically different reality? God was speaking to me, even back then.
As I finished high school and went off to college, my heart was always in tune to poverty and brokenness around the world, especially for kids. God gave me a deep love for children, long before I was blessed with my own kids. I became a teacher, moved to Guatemala, volunteered with kids at an orphanage, moved back to Michigan. God's voice never went away. I continued to hear the call to care for the orphan. But what would that look like? I was single, working... God was calling me to it but also saying, "Not yet".
Then I met Chad. And you know what? He had a heart for the orphan too. At one point he even said, "I don't know if I even want biological kids. There are so many kids in the world without parents, why wouldn't I take care of those kids instead of bringing more into the world?" And though biological kids weren't out of my desires for my life, when I heard those words, I knew God was not going to take away that calling to care for the orphan. But God kept saying, "Not yet".
Here we are. We've been married 7 years, lived in 3 different states, and have 2 beautiful children. I regularly hear the comment, "You have a million dollar family: one boy and one girl. What else could you want?" But God hasn't stopped pulling on our hearts to care for the orphan. The calling has gotten louder and more clear. God is calling us to care for kids in our own community through the foster care system. Most days, we are excited about it. God's voice has been clear. Just as he promised Joshua all those years ago, he promises us that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
But when we stop to think about all that is involved, it is also terrifying. Just as the Israelites looked at the Promised Land and allowed the sight of giants and fortified cities to overshadow the goodness of God's promises to them, we can easily look at foster care with fear and anxiety, missing out on what God has planned for our lives. Instead of running in fear, we are choosing to take a first step into our "Jordan", obediently following God into foster care. We have no idea what that might look like, but we trust in a God who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
Do you hear God calling you to take a next step? If so, I'd love to hear where God is calling you. If not, what's holding you back?