“I never see God. I seldom run into visual clues that remind me of God unless I am looking. The act of looking, the pursuit itself, makes possible the encounter. ” – Philip Yancey
When we traveled to Israel a few years ago, we learned to stay close to our guide. We literally would have been lost without her!
Given that experience, it was interesting to read in the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 6) that God gave different instructions. He wanted the people to follow the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant, but they were to follow more than half a mile behind. Not up close, but quite a distance away. That meant they might lose sight of the Ark or the view might be obstructed. I know I would have wanted to be a lot closer to those leaders. It’s more comfortable to follow by sight than by faith!
It made me think about life. There are times when we’re on a path we believe God placed us on, but we’ve lost sight of him, or we’re not understanding his guidance as clearly as we’d hoped. We begin to question whether we’re even on the right path. And, on really bad days, we’re afraid he’s forgotten us. He hasn’t! He’s sometimes half a mile out front making sure everything’s ready when we get there.
God’s not as far away as we think. He may be out of sight, but he’s still leading. We need to follow and trust. We’ll probably see him around the next bend.
“. . . I go to prepare a place for you. . . And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:2b-3
Are you facing something new in your life? A new relationship? Job? Baby? Class? Diagnosis? Neighborhood?
After Moses’ death, the Israelites were facing something new, too. They had been in the desert for 40 years and now were were camped on the eastern side of the Jordan River just waiting to cross and begin to claim the land God had promised. Joshua recognizes how scary this might be when he said, “you have not passed this way before.” (Joshua 3:4b)
There was a new leader to follow, a new river to cross, new land to take over, and new cultures to understand. So, God tells them, through Joshua, that he will show them the way. They just have to follow the priests who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant.
When we face something new in our lives, don’t we feel like that? We have left behind something familiar and comfortable. We haven’t done this thing before. How can we do it right? How can we succeed? Joshua’s message brings us comfort knowing that God realizes our fears. He knows we haven’t passed this way before, but he knows the way and tells us just to follow him.
And following God always brings the unexpected. The next thing the Israelites saw was the priests stepping into the Jordan River which was overflowing its banks. The rushing water stopped and the people were given a path through to the other side.
If we want a full life, we sometimes have to let go of the old path and turn to the new. God will lead us and may have a few surprises along the way. Just ask Joshua!
“You have made known to me the path of life.” – Psalm16:11a