Thursday, March 23, 2017

"Imagine the Terror"

Joshua 4.10-11 “God’s Word” Translation [1]

The priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan. They stood there until everything the Lord had ordered Joshua to tell the people had been carried out… The people hurried to the other side. As soon as everyone had crossed, the priests with the Lord's ark crossed and went ahead of them.”

These priests had faith, real faith. They had guts! The men who carried the Ark of the Covenant into the water of the Jordan trusted God for a miracle. They believed He would give a repeat performance of the astonishing Red Sea event which took place 40 years earlier. The waters divided and “rose up like a dam” when the priests “came to the edge of the Jordan River and set foot in the water” (Joshua 3.15-16 GWT). If the waters rose up, they could also come crashing down. The priests grasped the precarious nature of their situation. Death by drowning was a real possibility with the slightest shift in the wind or will of God. But these leaders valiantly faced danger and “remained standing in the middle of the Jordan” until “everyone had crossed” to the other side.

That’s what leaders do. They hold steady and face danger until their mission is complete. When it comes to risk and hazard, godly men are the first in and last out. They, like the priests in the Jordan River, are men of faith and guts.

About 30 years ago I watched a movie about faith and guts. “The Right Stuff” was based on Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book by the same title. One scene from the movie has haunted me for the past three decades. It vividly portrays the courage required to hold steady in the face of danger. I get claustrophobic and a little panicky thinking about it. Astronaut Gus Grissom splashed down in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Inside the cramped quarters of the Liberty Bell 7, the movie depicts a panic-stricken astronaut responsible for the premature detonation of the explosive bolts that blew off the escape hatch.[2]

Grissom nearly drowned trying to swim free of the space capsule which sank to the ocean’s bottom on that 21st day of July, 1961. Imagine the terror. What if the Liberty Bell 7 descended into the deep, dark, choppy waters moments after splashdown with Grissom still trapped alive in his sinking tomb? Thoughts of an imminent death must have gripped Gus Grissom’s mind in much the same way the priests feared drowning in the midst of the Jordan. But to cut and run is never an option for men of faith.

God give me the guts, the “right stuff” to hold steady with my calling for the benefit of those I serve even when I get scared and am tempted to abandon my role as a leader.  

[1] GOD'S WORD Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations Bible Society.

[2] The Liberty Bell 7 was retrieved from the ocean floor in 1999 and there was no evidence that Gus Grissom intentionally blew the hatch. Grissom always maintained he did nothing to set off the explosives and NASA agreed. Exactly what mechanical failure caused the hatch to open remains a mystery.

The excellent graphic at the bottom of this post is entitled "Drowning" by Pretty Angel at the Deviant Art website ( I could not locate the artist of the (also excellent) illustration at the top of this article.


maffy said...

"Cut and run." I've been doing that a lot lately, but trying to have faith that my journey isn't just for me, but others who must walk a similar path. You're right--life takes guts. Sometimes it's an act of courage just to get up in the morning.

Dave Scriven said...

I agree!

Melinda said...

This post really resonates with me and where I am at. It does, indeed, take determination and guts!

Dave Scriven said...

Thanks Melinda.