January 9, 2014 by Jess
I sit here facing the year ahead, one moment eager and the next procrastinating looking for anything to delay the time. This is the year my youngest starts school, and the questions come…
What will I possibly do, now that all the kids are in school?
The year ahead full of unknown territory. The murky horizon masking what is beyond.
I feel like I have been here before. Maybe it was the summer before I went to high school, or the week I moved out of home, or the eve of the wedding, or anticipating the new job, or those final weeks before the birth of a child? Each had its unknown territory. Each eagerly anticipated. Yet each decidedly scary in its own way. Am I the only one with an internal wrestle, a lunging forward whilst simultaneously holding back, as new territory approaches?
These past few day I have begun reading through the book of Judges. As often happens when I am reading God’s word, I am surprised by what I find and how it speaks into my life.
After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” The Lord said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.” (Judges 1:1-2, ESV)
Here they are, the Israelites on the brink of new territory. After 40 years in the now familiar dessert, the Promised Land is the unknown. Who is to claim their portion of land first? God declares that it is Judah. Here they are, the leaders, the tribe that gets the joy of leading into the victory they were assured of as they moved into the land that God had promised. BUT… how does Judah feel?
And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites. And I likewise will go with you into the territory allotted to you.” So Simeon went with him. (Judges 1:3, ESV)
The question of who will go first almost becomes irrelevant. Instead of, ‘Yes Lord… we will go,’ Judah is looking around for a hand to hold.
Reading this I felt a oneness with the tribe of Judah, a shared humanity. My human limits mean I cannot see exactly what tomorrow will be like, how much time I will have, how I will cope… Some things I know, but so much is murky. There is temptation to want to stay in the familiar, where it is safe. There is a temptation to try to take control, to plan, be busy, to find a friend to do this with me so I don’t need to face it alone. There is a temptation to want a hand to hold to face a new horizon.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)
Judah forgot that God was with them, God was going to do it, so they could be strong and courageous. They didn’t need a human hand to hold. They already had God, the Creator of heaven and earth (who had led them mightily out of Egypt and through the wilderness) at their right hand. Isn’t that what I forget? Unknown territory, a new tomorrow, may not always be the promised land, but for those who are in Christ the promise is the same,”behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I already have a hand to hold. With God at my right hand, I can walk forward in obedience with confidence.
It’s time to turn from the sins of fear, procrastination and avoidance. I might not be starting any grand ventures in this my first year of childless days since 2002. I might not have a sure plan for my life beyond here. BUT I can walk in faithful obedience to my Saviour, with my Saviour, trusting Him to lead. In fact, my trust will be most tested as I trust Him to fill my days with direction knowing that none of this might placate those asking the questions.
Lord forgive me for giving in to fear of the unknown. Help me to be strong and courageous, remembering your presence, using my time in worshipful obedience rather than hours spent trying to find an earthly hand to hold. Thank you that you are continually with me and you hold my right hand (Psalm 73:23). Thank you that it is to you and you alone that my time is accountable to.
© J.Smith Photography and ‘illuminating the invisible’ (2012-2014).