But I’ve Never Been This Way Before!
“… When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” Joshua 3:3-4a
“I feel like I should say something really wise right now,” I murmured as I stood in the middle of my daughter’s dorm room and pulled her into a one-armed hug.
We’d spent the day moving our new college freshman into her home away from home. We’d unpacked boxes and organized drawers, stacked bunk beds and decorated the walls. But now there was nothing left to do but say good-bye.
“I’ve never known you to be short on words,” my girl quipped with a wobbly grin.
“I’m sure I’ll think of something brilliant to say on the ride home,” I promised with a wink.
My daughter giggled, and I swallowed the lump of tears swelling in my throat; then, I walked out the door.
Unfortunately, the drive home didn’t kindle a surge of wisdom. Instead, it stirred a wave of uncertainty. As I considered the new season of parenting stretching ahead of me, I felt overwhelmed by all I didn’t know.
As my daughter embraced her freshly found independence, I wanted to love her well, but I wasn’t sure how to turn intention into action. How could I best support her while giving her plenty of space to learn and grow?
“Lord, I’ve never done this before,” I admitted. “Please help me.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d stood on the edge of change and wondered how to navigate the uncharted path ahead.
I’d felt the same bewilderment when I’d left the hospital with wrinkly skinned babies in my arms … the same sort of uncertainty when I’d resigned from a job I loved to serve in a ministry where I’d been called … the same kind of disquiet when I’d left my comfortable hometown and moved to a new community.
No matter what the landscape of your life looks like right now, sooner or later, we all find ourselves navigating uncertain transitions. And, more often than not, change has a sneaky way of shaking our confidence and magnifying our doubts.
That’s why I’m thankful for God’s words in Joshua 3.
As the chapter begins, an entire generation is standing on the edge of a significant shift. After 40 years of desert dwelling, the Israelites are moving to the land God has promised them. But before they begin their journey, the Lord offers some invaluable instructions.
“… When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:3-4a).
The ark of the covenant was a special, gold-plated wooden chest that housed the presence of God. By directing the Israelites to fix their gaze on the ark, God redirects the focus of their journey from their uncertainties to His constancy. “I know you haven’t done this before,” He acknowledges, “but if you keep your eyes on Me, I’ll show you the way.”
Thanks to Jesus, we no longer need a chest to carry God in our midst. When we accept the salvation Christ offers, the Holy Spirit moves into our lives and willingly guides our steps. (John 16:15) As we pay attention to His presence and heed His promptings, the Spirit directs us through the throes of change. Being near to God gives us wisdom even when we find ourselves on a journey we’ve never experienced before.
As I talked with God on the drive home, my swirling thoughts began to still. Life as I knew it was changing, but God had a plan — for both my daughter and for me. Best of all, when my questions quieted, I thought of three brilliant words to tell my daughter as we stepped into a new season of life together: I love you.
Dear Jesus, thank You for never changing even when are
circumstances do. Help us to pay attention to Your presence and follow where You lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What’s one thing you can do to fix your eyes on Jesus more intentionally in times of transition?
John 16:13, 15, “The Spirit of truth will come and guide you in all truth … The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you.”
Hebrews 12:1b-2, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”