Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I've never been this way before...

There are times, seasons in life, when we just have to admit it is all 'new' to us. We haven't been that way before - it is uncharted territory for us. I haven't had any cardiac surgery, but my friend was facing another in a history of those types of surgeries, and he didn't know if it would be his last or just another in the list. While it would be 'uncharted territory' for me, it was old hat to him. I haven't been in a hurricane, but I have endured many a monsoon, haboob, and microburst capable of uprooting trees, toppling fences, and hurling large objects across roadways at your vehicle. We can all say we have had those moments where something comes as 'old hat' to us - familiar territory, for sure. As much as we may not like to admit it, when it is 'new territory' we are traversing, we might not feel all that comfortable, secure, or 'faith-filled'! We don't know what to expect, so we are a little fearful. These are natural responses to new situations - but God has the perfect antidote to our fear. The antidote? Keeping the right thing in our focus as we traverse the 'uncharted territory'!

Joshua was up early and on his way from Shittim with all the People of Israel with him. He arrived at the Jordan and camped before crossing over. After three days, leaders went through the camp and gave out orders to the people: "When you see the Covenant-Chest of God, your God, carried by the Levitical priests, start moving. Follow it. Make sure you keep a proper distance between you and it, about half a mile—be sure now to keep your distance!—and you'll see clearly the route to take. You've never been on this road before." (Joshua 3:1-4)

Jericho - a huge city fortified with walls and a large army - uncharted territory for these Israelite armies, although a familiar one to those who inhabit it. This was a city surrounded by palm trees, rich soil, and natural springs. As a result, the land was coveted for its resources. It was a good place for Israel - giving them water, food, and position for what comes next. The army of Israel had "insider information" on the ins and outs of this city - not to mention an "inside source" to support them on their attack, if necessary, yet it was still 'uncharted territory' for the vast multitude who would be asked to enter in. We see the instructions that were given that would keep them well, provide for their security, and act as a guide for their every step. It is simple: Keep God before you! The rationale for this: You have never been this way before! You may have expected some great revelation from God if you were about to go into some new land, laden with giants, surrounded by fortified cities - uncharted territory. I imagine most of us would want the "inside scoop" on just how God was going to "pull things off" before we'd even want to take our first step!

Spies had been sent - reports had come back. They knew the gravity of the battle ahead. I imagine they were likely a little intimidated by the size of the walls - if not by the fact that these cities had "trained" armies. These Israelites were "green" when it came to warfare. That would make me feel pretty "inept" in a similar situation! We cannot forget the report they brought back - the people are all trembling in their boots because of US! In fact, the cities of Canaan had already heard of the reputation of the God of Israel - it had preceded their arrival. They knew of the reports of the Red Sea being parted, swallowing countless numbers of Egyptian soldiers, and the safety of this band of Israelites being maintained in their exodus from Egypt. They had learned that they did not even have to "bear arms" to accomplish this great exodus! God's reputation was well-established already!

That is important for us to remember when facing the next major challenge of our walk (whatever 'uncharted territory' that may be). God asks one thing of us - keep him squarely before us! Why? Because we have never been this way before. When taking new ground in our lives, we need to remember the "placement" of God - if he is squarely in the middle of our thoughts, our hopes, and our movements, we can count on his reputation making the path clear for us. Just sayin!