Joshua 3:3-4 “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God and the priests, who are Levites, 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.”
Any of you experience a “sick-in-the-stomach” reaction when challenged with circumstances that force you out of well-defined boxes? (As a Public Speaking teacher, I see this response in students quite often!) God desires to replace the anxiety that accompanies new encounters with a deeper level of trust. He wants to pry us away from our incessant need for certainty to make room for creativity and new growth. To accomplish this he will, from time-to-time, present us with unfamiliar experiences in order to rescue us from eventual stagnancy and stunted development.
We all have I’ve never been this way before experiences. We leave home, marry, have children. We start a business; we take a new position; we write a book; we enter the mission field. Like Israel, our victory over the accompanying apprehension will depend on whether we have allowed ourselves to follow the ark.
Taking the Promised Land required a level of trust the Israelites had never known. Everything from marching around Jericho seven times and literally shouting the walls down, to each man possessing his own “vine and fig tree” necessitated the assurance that God was with them. The fledgling nation would have to trust God in a greater measure in order to survive. They had never been this way before.
When God leads us to places we have never been before we, too, can go confidently if we keep our eyes on the ark— if we trust God is with us. When a situation looms before us and we don’t know what to do, we have to stretch our roots to find the life-giving streams of wisdom. The level our roots went before no longer suffices because God wants us to go deeper and stand taller. Bonsai trees are lovely to look at, but they don’t produce fruit. And neither will we if we don’t learn how to embrace new circumstances with trust in the God who leads the way.
We were made to go…and to grow….