Joshua, Week 3: The Joy of Rock Collecting
The most powerful stories in the Bible, and in life today, are drawn from people’s experiences. Not from their research or even their beliefs.
Jim Killam
October 17, 2023

I’m a notorious quitter.

Let me explain. At three different times during my career, I’ve resigned from jobs— prayerfully sure that God had something new in mind, but having no idea what that was. Each time, resigning meant big financial risk, and potentially changing where and how we lived. At one point when we first went into mission work, we even lived for a year in a shed.

I’m also blessed with a wife who was good with this, every single time. Even the shed.

Some might view this approach as reckless. But for us, each of those resignations was a step Godward, and a step away from holding too tightly to things like a career, a house and a location. A trust fall, if you will.


Just before my most recent resignation, from a ministry job in Texas, I had lunch with my friend, Keith. I told him I knew I needed to resign, but I was trying to figure out what came next.

“Maybe God is waiting for you to go first,” he said.

I hope you have a friend like that. Keith and I talk a lot about crazy steps of faith we’re both taking—not in a prideful way, but with a knowing chuckle. Only God could have engineered the unlikely ways he’s used us. Stuff we never imagined doing, in places we never dreamed of going. And it starts with just saying yes to God’s promptings—leaping off diving boards of various heights without knowing whether there’s any water in the pool.

I told Lauren about the lunch conversation. We prayed, and we both knew it was time to climb the high dive. In just a matter of hours after tendering my resignation, God was already providing for us financially through unexpected writing jobs. A couple of weeks later, I received a call recruiting me to my current role with Wycliffe Bible Translators. This would be a raise-your-support position, supplemented by Lauren’s income and my freelance work. Not exactly easy street … but a chance to be part of something bigger than we ever imagined.

Quite often, God’s reward for taking a big step of faith is presenting us with an even bigger one. You never feel qualified or prepared, but that’s part of the deal. It’s an uncertain way to live, but each step also builds a better certainty—in the goodness, faithfulness and providence of God. And, there’s this side benefit: All of life becomes an adventure.

Stories as stones

The most powerful stories in the Bible, and in life today, are drawn from people’s experiences. Not from their research or even their beliefs. Pastor Luke touched on this Sunday in mentioning the “faith hall of fame” in Hebrews 11. Think of each of those stories as a single stone in a larger monument. Then think about Joshua 4, where God instructs the Israelites to take 12 stones from the spot they crossed the Jordan River, and to place them in their camp as a vivid, permanent reminder of what God did there. Each stone, carried one per tribe, represents part of that story.

Our stones are our stories. Today, we do well to memorialize individual stones as monuments to God’s faithfulness. But it’s even better when lots of people pile lots of stones together as a collective monument. It marks the place where ordinary, unqualified people took steps of faith and then watched in amazement at what God did in a church, or a community, or a nation.

Think of the early Swedish immigrants who founded our church. Imagine the crazy, often-prayerful decision to leave everything you knew and set out across the North Atlantic, when that was still a new and outrageous idea. Then navigating the crowds and confusion at Ellis Island. Then finally arriving at the train station in Rockford (Rockford?!) and finding yourselves welcomed as strangers by a community of believers. Imagine that feeling of assurance that God not only had your back, but he also was going to use you in powerful ways that would impact untold generations.

What if they had decided not to come? What if no one had gone to greet them?

In his book, A Certain Risk, Paul Richardson writes about taking big steps of faith:

“As you step forward, the temptation to retreat into the safe havens of the past will always be there. Be assured that he will providentially lead you into seemingly blind alleys. In these impossible moments, you will look ahead to see only dangerous turns, dead ends, and ominous obstacles. Behind you will see the same road you traveled yesterday, and that pattern of existence will feel inviting. You’ll want to put life into reverse and get back to familiar streets. In these moments of decision, many dreams get stored away in the musty, cobwebbed basement of our souls.

“Yet such alleys are where miracles happen. Crises are the launching pads from which God blasts us into a journey of faith. When all appears to be lost, we are left with no choice but to fall to our knees and cry out to God. We then discover that moments of impossibility are precisely where God has always wanted us. In these moments our lives become the playground of his creativity.”

It won’t always be about leaving a job, selling a house, becoming a missionary or some other “big” life decision. Maybe it’s a conversation God has been prompting you to have. Maybe it’s giving money sacrificially. It looks different for everyone. Here’s what I know: When you build a habit of saying yes to God—especially when it’s uncomfortable—you accumulate quite a rock collection for the kingdom.

Do you feel inspired to share some of your “rock collection” with our church family? Email us at communications@firstfreerockford.org or use the Connect Card on our website to take the first step today. Your story doesn’t need to be perfectly written, all-encompassing, or complete. We would be honored to help you flesh it out together.

Jim Killam
Jim Killam is a journalist, author, teacher and terminal Cubs fan. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Rockford and work internationally with Wycliffe Bible Translators.


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