Although the Indiana Jones movies are now relics like the items Indy searched for in caves, there is one scene from the saga that will remain embedded in my memory forever. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there is one gripping moment when Indiana has to take a step of faith. You can all imagine it with me: he is standing on the edge of a gaping chasm; there is no way around it; his father lies slowly dying behind him; he has to get to the other side if he wants to find the Holy Grail and save the world. At this point in the movie, even the audience is uncertain how Indiana will make it across. Indiana looks at the gap in front of him and says, “Impossible.” It seems that Indiana cannot use his trusty whip, and there is no hidden lever to lower a bridge. Simply put, Indiana’s normal strength and wits cannot save him.
This is where I find myself today.
In front of me is the gaping chasm of no job, not knowing what country I will be living in six months from now, and not seeing a clear way out. Additionally, my usual methods of planning my life and maintaining stability for my future are not working. Or rather they are not what God wants me to rely on right now so He has removed them. My normal crutches of being consistently hardworking, keeping a job, and planning ahead have been surrendered to God.
God said, “Lauren, it’s time to get serious.” Then He reminded me of my childhood call to missions. God made me read a book that stripped me of my American ideals of comfort and safety (Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis). God led me to accidentally meet some retired missionaries Bobbye and Jerry who turned out to be Dr. Jerry and Bobbye Rankin of the International Mission Board (he was the president of the IMB for seventeen years). God led me to read another book that reminded me that everyone is called to spread the Gospel (The Challenge to Great Commission Obedience by Jerry Rankin).
All these steps were God gently guiding me to the edge of the chasm. He pointed ahead toward the other side of overseas missions and nudged me to walk in faith. God says, “Step out where there is no bridge and watch Me build you one.” Maybe you are currently facing your own dark chasm that seems insurmountable. Every believer has different faith challenges because God is stretching every believer’s faith for a different purpose. God may not be calling you to go to another country and do mission work. God may be telling you to go back to college, to talk to your husband about getting pregnant one more time, to let your aging parents move in with you, to send your kids to a different school, to write a book, or to start praying for that crazy dream that is weighing on your heart. I do not know your next step of faith, and frankly you may not either. But you can rest in the peaceful realization that God always knows what is next, and He will take you safely across.
But that’s the next conundrum. Now that we are at the edge of the chasm, how do we get across? At this part in the movie, Indiana begins to recite part of the clue that lead him to this point. “A step of faith” seems to be the key phrase. But wouldn’t a step of faith in this instance lead Indiana to plunge into the darkness of the chasm and die a gruesome death? Wouldn’t it be foolish to trust the clue and walk into emptiness?
These seemingly “foolish” choices are sometimes exactly what God wants us to do. God called me to apply for overseas missions. I did not know that would mean I had to take a step away from job security and not sign a teaching contract for next year. I did not know that would mean waiting for more than a year after starting my application to see what mission job postings the International Mission Board (IMB) has available. I did not know it would mean cleaning out my classroom and saying goodbye to people I hold dear, even though I still do not know if the IMB will send me overseas. I did not know it would mean accepting that I might be 29 or 30 when I return from my overseas posting and that I might be single for the rest of my life. All of these steps of faith are movements that dissolve into utter darkness. I cannot see the ground beneath my foot. It seems like my step of faith has been hovering in the unknown for the past four months. I have still months of the unknown waiting to go and God is saying, “Lean in. Put your full weight on that foot hovering in the air.”
There is still the fear that in a few months when my full weight comes down I will be in a freefall. There is the human possibility that all of my inability to plan will fall crashing down on me, and I will end up spiritually crushed and lost in darkness. At the other end of this step could be God saying, “I am glad you had faith in Me, but that is not what I want you to do. Now let’s pick up the pieces and keep going.” There is the possibility that I will not be strong enough to get back up at that point. I might do some intense crying sessions and blame God for all the false hope He gave me. But if that happens, I have to believe that is part of God’s sovereign plan. He stretches our faith not just to give us what we think we need, but sometimes to tell us, “No.” That is the terrifying part, right? What if you step out in faith, and God intentionally lets you fall? That seems unloving and maybe not quite “Christian.” However, without the possibility of failure, there is no need for faith. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” These verses always remind me that it is not my job to figure out the future; it is my job to trust the One who has a different, higher plan for the future.
So I cannot leave you with some perfect promise that if you step out in faith God will always make the impossible possible. What I can promise is that God is able to make the impossible possible and that He wants you to take the steps of faith when He leads you to the wide chasm. We see this throughout the Bible. God did not make Abraham’s first son Ishmael the leader of Israel, but God did allow Sarah to have Isaac in her old age. God did not save Israel from being overtaken by the Babylonians and held captive for years, but He did rescue Israel out of slavery to the Egyptians. Even Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, but would not save Himself from a horrific death on the cross.
There are thousands of examples of God being able to heal, rescue, or save and still choosing not do so. But there are just as many examples of God miraculously choosing to heal, rescue, and save a people who were undeserving. So the challenge I leave with you is this: walk to the edge of the chasm of impossible problems, pick up your foot in faith that God can make it possible, and lean forward.