Waders and leapers — a person is either one or the other. Some like to wade into a body of water, and some like to leap right in. Most people are waders. Few welcome the shock to the system that leapers experience, yet the alternative is a discomforting journey spread out in time. Sometimes waders never become fully immersed. That’s the danger. Halfway through, some just give up, only to find themselves in a kind of liquid limbo, a nautical noman’s- land with the watermark somewhere around their middle. The trick to successful wading is progression — constant momentum toward the goal.

It’s no surprise that in the spiritual realm many are waders, cautiously advancing their way into the kingdom. Their faith begins weak, but at least their feet are wet. Spiritual waders need encouragement to continue on to the fullness of giving their hearts to the Lord.

Elliot was a spiritual wader. He is a Jewish man to whom I have been ministering for several years. We met for the first time when Elliot came to my home church and my pastor introduced us to one another. At the time, Elliot was searching for answers from his Jewish culture. How can I investigate Christianity when I don’t know my own religion very well?” he asked. He started attending synagogue services accompanied by his Christian wife, who continued to pray for him.

Elliot’s spiritual struggle was at times so intense that it seemed to consume his thoughts for an entire day. When we met, he often brought literature that attempted to disprove the messiahship of Jesus. We would look at the literature together, and even though I would demonstrate to Elliot the error of those arguments, there was something more behind his doubt. Elliot would have preferred to see the facts pointing away from Jesus rather than toward Him. It would have been more convenient. He knew that believing in Jesus would exact a cost in his family relationships and in his peer group.

One day Elliot and I met and again discussed the possibility of Jesus being the Messiah. Our time together went by quickly, and I ended as usual with a challenge to Elliot about making a commitment to Yeshua in prayer. To my surprise, this time Elliot announced, “Well, I don’t really have any reason why I shouldn’t believe, and I think I want to have Jesus in my life now.” He told me he had been thinking about the decision all week and related to me a conversation he had had with another Jewish believer who had prayed to accept Jesus.

“But I want to do it kind of starting out in a small way,” Elliot said. “I don’t want to wait, but I’m not sure about everything. Can I sort of wade into this?”

I didn’t want to put a damper on Elliot’s spiritual momentum, but I also didn’t want him to think he could make Jesus his Savior without also making Him his Lord. I told him that Jesus wanted to enter his life all the way. I said, “He’s a person, not a force, and you get all of Him when you get any of Him. But you also get full forgiveness.”

Elliot’s wife was in the other room, and he called her in for prayer. Then, with the faith of a mustard seed, Elliot prayed a prayer of repentance and committed his heart to Jesus. Tears of happiness rolled down his wife’s cheeks as she reflected on the hard road that had led to that moment, and with joy they embraced. When I saw Elliot a few days later at church, he proudly said, “I’m still wading in deeper!”