Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
Into the Jordan
“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”
Writing is scary.
It’s surprising how frightening the prospect of writing has been for me. I mean, I stand up regularly in front of large crowds to teach and I’m always more than willing to be open and honest in those moments about my own brokenness. So why this fear?
As I’ve pondered this question at length, what I’ve come to believe is that it feels like an inability to protect myself. If I stand up and speak to a large crowd or even just a couple of people, they may not like what I have to say, they may not like me, but there is no doubt they will see my passion, my heart, and my love for God’s Word. I have some “illusion of control” and that at least feels safe. And yet, God has not called me to something that feels safe or that I can control. Instead, he has called me to take a step that feels so vulnerable, so exposed….why?
Skimming through my past journals, going all the way back to 2006, the same two messages are whispered over and over again - inexplicably woven together. The nudge to begin writing and the story from Joshua 3, when the Israelite's cross the Jordan River, is a constant theme. For more than 10 years the same promptings and the only response from me has been one justification after another as to why “it’s not the right time to start.”However, this past March 2016, everything changed as I asked God to fully show me how Joshua 3 intersects with this call to begin writing.
I close my eyes and listen; an image of the Jordan River at flood stage tries to form in my mind but doesn’t quite materialize. The visualizer in me stops, turns on my computer, heads to Google Images and types the words - Jordan River at flood stage. The pictures that emerge are powerful and captivating.
THIS is the river that God asked his people, the children of Israel, to step into and trust that he would part? Did he realize they were just human beings up against a raging, powerful force of nature?
Obviously, yes, but still he asked them to step in.
I close my eyes again. Now the image is clear; so clear I can almost hear the rushing and crashing of water and feel small splashes on my toes as the river rages past me standing there on the bank. I’m so close that I can feel the coolness of the water wafting up into my face as the wind bounces off the water and whirls around me. It is a glorious image and then I hear the Lord whisper to my heart, “Steph, will you step in? Will you write for me?”
I’ve been standing there on the edge of that river now for 10 long years – paralyzed. I can’t help but wonder about my Lord’s infinite patience. Never once has he attempted to push me in against my will. No, he has just stood there beside me, waiting, whispering truth, and letting me know he is with me. Finally, when I became more scared of what life would be like if I didn’t move, I stepped into "my Jordan River" and began to write.
The river is wide and the anxiety of my first step in is more than I have words to express. The reality is, I am only one step off the bank with a lot of river in front of me to cross. The even bigger reality is that I don’t know what’s going to be on the other side when I get across. Still, I took that step and you know what? The ground was firm and dry as my foot landed.
God allowed me to see with unprecedented clarity the truth of what stepping into "my Jordan River" really means.
My job is to step into the river. God’s job is to part the water.
It’s so simple and yet so profound. My job (my step) is to spend time with God and write what he puts on my heart. God’s job (parting the waters) is to put my words in front of those whom he wants to read them.
What my Lord has called me to do may feel vulnerable, but what he has revealed is that my safety or "illusion of control" will never be found in my situation. My safety will be found in my relationship with him, and that is why he calls me out into the raging waters because he is there.
There is unforeseen freedom found in trusting Jesus with the next step.
For Your Reflection…
What is "your Jordan River"? Is there something God is calling you to that you’re “paralyzed” to step into because of fear?
Go back and read the entirety of Joshua 3. What might God have to stay to you about where he is leading you to take your next step?