“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. ”
Someone has to go first.
The Wright Brothers had to go first to prove that sustained human flight was possible.
Chuck Yeager had to go first to prove that breaking the sound barrier was achievable.
Roger Bannister had to go first to prove that running the mile in less than four minutes could be done.
Jonas Salk had to go first to prove that the vaccine he created could cure polio.
William Tyndale had to go first to translate the Bible into English.
(Considering you just read Joshua 3:13 in English I think we can pause to give William props.)
Going first takes faith, courage, and an occasional triple-dog-dare. It's scary to go first. There's no guarantee that you will be successful. You might embarrass yourself and even possibly die, or at least wish you had died. For example if you were the first one to eat clams: Yuck.
Whenever new technology comes out not everybody runs out to buy the latest and greatest. There tends to be a staggered response. According to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, the response to new technology tends to be as follows:
13.5% early adopters
34% early majority
34% late majority
According to this theory, most people don't want to go first. The crowd wants someone else to be the guinnea pig. They want someone else to prove it's safe and successful. I like to think I'm an early adopter but I'm not. It usually takes me a while to warm up to the latest. I typically let my wife figure it out first so I can piggy back on her success. I want someone else to go first. I don’t want to be the pioneer. But that is not always the offer that God makes.
Sometimes God lays down a holy dare:
David had to be the first to step up to the giant.
Peter had to be the first to get out of the boat and walk on water.
Noah had to be the first to build a floating zoo.
Paul had to be first to start a church in Europe.
In a sense, the people who go first are in reality second because God always takes the lead. He never asks us to go somewhere where he has not already blazed the trail. We are always playing catch up.
As the Israelites are getting ready to enter the land that God has promised them for the last four centuries, there's only one thing standing in the way... the Jordan River. Someone has to go first. God doesn't ask for volunteers. He points at a handful of priests and says, "It's up to you." He lays down a triple-dog-dare. The priests have to step into the river in order to initiate the miracle so the rest of the people can walk through on dry ground. The promise is that once they step into the raging river, the water will part and a path will unfold before them. But the miracle will not start until they get wet. The flow stops with a toe. Their shoes will initiate everything.
Just as Dorothy has to click her ruby red shoes together to go home. Cinderella has to fit into a glass slipper to marry the prince and live happily ever after. It's not until a 14 year old orphan named Calvin discovers a pair of Michael Jordan's basketball shoes that he magically becomes an NBA superstar.
Israel's future is hinging on a few priests' faith. Will they go first?
Who is waiting on you to go first?
Is there a neighbor who is waiting on you to be the first to invite them to church?
Is there an elderly person who is waiting for you to be the first one to visit them in a long time?
Is there an outsider who is waiting for you to be the first to befriend them?
I triple-dog-dare you to go first.