The following is a reflection by Ursuline Associate Bonnie Chester:
The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters.”
So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
“Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank.”
Reading this Bible passage in today’s readings, gave me pause to think about what really is a leap of faith and what does it require of me? Where was the expression first heard?
Turns out it was a metaphor for religious belief in God, penned by a Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard. He argued that God was spiritual, rather than physical, and was separate from the material world of man. Therefore, God could not be understood through science or logic. One could only understand God through faith alone.
Another definition I read is that it is an act of believing in or accepting something outside the “boundaries of reason.” However, this secular meaning leaves God out of the picture. There are things, as Kierkegaard contends, I just cannot understand without my faith in God. That faith is very much a part of my leap of faith. What about “boundaries of reasoning” — was it reasonable for the Israelites to watch the Red Sea part, and then boldly cross between a wall of water? That was probably way outside of their “boundaries of reasoning.” But they took a chance. I would call that the best biblical example of a “leap of faith.”
Many examples of the leap of faith can be found in the Old Testament. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews gives a good definition of faith as he begins chapter 11. It is often quoted: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, and evidence of things not seen.” He writes at length about Noah, who questioned God: “an ark, really God, THAT big? Whatever do I need that for?” Then there were Abraham and Sarah, way beyond childbearing age. Upon hearing that they were to have a son, Sarah asked, “Now that I am withered, and my husband is old?” It was so out of her “boundary of reasoning,” that she laughed. And there is the story of Moses—not only did he part the Red Sea, but he boldly put blood on the door of the Israelites’ homes so that the destroyers of the firstborn sons might not touch them. And then there was Moses’s successor, Joshua, marched with conviction around the city of Jericho seven times—a leap of faith for sure, and the walls came tumbling down!
Often these leaps of faith can involve what I would call “the stuff of real life.” They are shown by acts of trust, great trust, in God, in real life situations. I can compare it to a bridge. When you cross a span several miles long, you must trust that it was constructed properly, and that you will safely get to the other side. But in real life, there is not always a bridge of clear logic, no clear visual that I can see and rely on to “walk across.” I must leap, and let God safely hold me in His arms.
I think of some life situations that require my leap of faith, such as forgiving someone who hurt me because I know that is the way God would want me to forgive or when I have really made a mess of things, trusting that God will walk with me as I face the next day.
Dear Lord, increase the strength of my faith. I want to believe in You. I want to forget what I hear out in the world or what logic and fear tell me. I am ready to leap!