Think of a time when you had to travel to a new destination. You’ve never been there before, never had to figure out how to get there, and really don’t have any idea what to expect when you arrive.
Life transitions such as the death of a spouse, a job transfer out of state, a military assignment, adopting a child, getting married, the first year of college, a pandemic, etc. are all times when we experience the mystery of “you’ve never traveled this way before.” Even addiction recovery can feel this way, when a person finally overcomes his or her past and ventures into sober life for the first time. It is like standing at a crossroad in an unknown town and looking in all directions saying, “What now?”
The third chapter of Joshua tells the “what now” story of the Israelites’ journey through a very foreign but still-promised land. They were of one mind and heart as they ventured forward, trusting their leadership to get them to the place where God was calling them to settle:
Joshua 3 (Common English Bible)
3 Joshua took down the camp early in the morning. He and all the Israelites marched out of Shittim and came to the Jordan, where they stayed overnight before crossing. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the middle of the camp. 3 They commanded the people, “As soon as you see the Lord your God’s chest containing the covenant and the levitical priests carrying it, you are to march out from your places and follow it. 4 But let there be some distance between you and it, about three thousand feet. Don’t come near it!
(If an image of one of the final scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark just flashed through your mind, you are my hero. “Don’t come near it” indeed!!)
You will know the way you should go, even though you’ve never traveled this way before.”
This sentence is EVERYTHING. God assures us that when he calls us into a new place outside of our comfort zone, he will go ahead of us. We will know the way to go, even though we’ve never gone that way before. Do you know how to get ready?
5 Joshua said to the people, “Make yourselves holy! Tomorrow the Lord will do wonderful things among you.”
Make yourself holy. Stop, reflect, PRAY, meditate on scripture, and make yourself ready for your journey. God will do wonderful things among you.
6 Then Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the covenant chest. Go along in front of the people.” So they lifted up the covenant chest and went in front of the people.
This is a final reminder for your journey: fix your eyes on God’s promise. Keep steady and walk forward. Don’t look to the right or the left…God’s future is ahead of you.
7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you great in the opinion of all Israel. Then they will know that I will be with you in the same way that I was with Moses.
May you also know with the same assurance that God will be with you in your “what now” as well.