There are bound to be some turning points in our life that we will later look back upon and say “There my life took a new direction. That choice made all the difference. But I had no idea at the moment about the importance of the step I took!”
So it was with Israel at the time written about in the first chapters of the book of Joshua. Moses was dead. Joshua was new in leadership. A desert lay behind them, a swollen river ahead of them. Forty years of walking back and forth in the desert had been filled with the Lord`s miracles, but even so, to continue that way was not a prospect that made them shout “Alleluia”. But neither did the unknown land before them. They had no boats for the crossing of the river, the enemies were strong, and their cities were well fortified. And the land was unknown to all except to a couple of spies who had seen a corner of it, and escaped by the skin of their teeth.
‘You have never been this way before’ - True. And then the intriguing questions arise: How will we know the road, how will we know where to turn, how will we know how to fight, how will we even get across the river?
The Lord’s answer was not a lengthy list of necessary preparations. Just a simple word with deep meaning: ‘Consecrate yourselves’. That simple phrase was the only directive they needed for the next few years. That was the answer to pressing needs of help when the enemies seemed to overwhelm them, the solution to feelings of inferiority, and the infallible guide to a behaviour that was worthy of the Lord.
To consecrate themselves, at least in that context, mainly seemed to involve only one thing: Obedience to the Lord.
To cross into unknown land, listen to the Lord! To conquer the mighty fortresses of strong enemies, listen to the Lord! To find the narrow path of success, listen to the Lord! To guard yourself against the besetting feeling of complacency, listen to the Lord! To overcome the temptations of sin, listen to the Lord!
Not that there are no other voices, but only the Lord´s voice will lead you to possess the land God has promised you. Not that He always speaks about the most logical way of action, and the easiest solution to the problems. But He speaks about the only way to attaining His promises, the only way to overcoming all enemies and obstacles.
Some of you who read this may be facing a crucial situation right now. The example from the time of Joshua still holds true: Consecrate yourself, listen to His voice, and begin to walk, even if it seems impossible in the face of the circumstances. ‘The Lord will do amazing things among you’.
The right action, at the critical point, will cause the most remarkable consequences, for today, and for years to come.
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