Step into the River

May 24, 2018
By Mark Allphin

It took several years to heed the call, but I recently returned with the Mt. Bethel Missions team from Bolivia. As you might expect me to say, it was a fantastic experience. But, while fantastic, the operative word in that statement is really “experience.”

I like to think I’m fairly grounded in reality. I am aware that I have lived in a bubble and, at the same time, aware of what life is like for many beyond that bubble. But I’m finding there can be a stark difference in between what I perceive and the reality of hearing, seeing, and touching. Actual relationships, even more so those born of Christian brotherhood, change perspective in ways perhaps only personal experience can. (Watch a video of our experience here.)

In this case, I’m not talking about a sad and sobering realization that life is hard for many, but an understanding that our God is so much bigger, deeper, and lovingly imaginative than I ever give Him credit for. A God that would intricately create such diversity, of both culture and landscape, speaks more to me of a binding thread of love than it ever could of separation and difference.

Now, back to that comment about heeding the call. Somehow, I’ve developed some anxieties and fears surrounding things like germs, foods, and even bathrooms. I guess it’s somehow rooted in a fear of getting sick. These fears are some of the reasons it took me so long to sign up for a trip I’ve heard God whispering to me about for years.

Pastor Jared preached earlier this year from the book of Joshua about God’s invitation to the Israelites to step into the Jordan. My takeaway from that sermon was a reminder to not look beyond the river into the land of unknown, where fear and anxiety live, but instead simply step into the river in faith and watch what God does. I finally decided that morning that I was going to Bolivia.

Here’s what I’m discovering. Those fears and anxieties of mine only serve to blind me to the greater, fuller, promises of God. Rich experiences lie beyond the fears and my own shortcomings—experiences that deepen my trust and joy in the Lord. Experiences that draw people together in relationships built on the foundation of love that Christ Jesus offers us all, in every corner of His beautiful creation.

Maybe you’ve got some fears and anxieties as well. Perhaps we can help each other to see beyond all that and claim the power and promises of a God who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves.

Your Brother in Christ,

Mark Allphin