No Turning Back

Both Feet In Book Cover

In his book Both Feet In, retired missionary Dr. Bud Fray references an old African proverb that says: “Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.” It’s like testing the temperature of the pool water before you jump in; we stick our toe in first and if it’s too cold we have the option of pulling back. Once we jump in with both feet we are committed . . . and we better know how to swim!

After serving 28 years among the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa, Bud and his wife, Jane, know firsthand what the African people mean by this proverb. The African peoples’ life experiences taught them to tread cautiously before committing to something. They worshipped many different gods and held many beliefs that were contrary to the gospel. So when confronted with the truths of the Bible, they hesitated to commit to the one true God of Scripture. Carefully and wisely, missionaries like Bud taught them to weigh all the consequences and then, when they were ready and totally committed to Jesus’ teaching, put both feet in, knowing there is no turning back.

Jesus calls us likewise to have both feet in for the sake of the gospel as we share with those who have yet to hear. This seems so counterintuitive to our culture. In many ways, our culture tells us: Focus on what I want and need, what makes me happy and feeds my ego. This comes first as I make choices for how I will live and what I will commit to with my time and resources. If something is going to cost me, if I stick my toe in first and don’t like it, I have the right to pull back and not jump in with both feet. It all depends on what makes me happy first.

Bud and Jane Fray and many missionaries like them provide a model for us of individuals who have weighed the consequences and, even though the cost may be great, placed both feet in for the sake of the gospel. As we look at the year before us, we have a fresh opportunity to evaluate where we stand in our commitment to following Christ. Are we willing to take an honest look at our lives and ask the Lord where we need to change? Are we willing to look at our church and its priorities in fulfilling the Great Commission and voice the places where change is needed to better disciple people, reach our communities, and share Christ with a lost world?

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, a portion of verses 14 and 15 reads, “For Christ’s love compels us . . . that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” I think Paul would agree with the African proverb. After all, he put both feet in for the gospel in his day and encourages us to do the same today in whatever way God calls us.

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