I don’t deal well with change.

Don’t believe me? Come to my church on Sunday morning. Sit in my usual spot and watch my face as it dawns on me that I will need to sit somewhere new.

This distaste of change makes me cast a wary eye on the future. Who knows what the future will bring?

Good news: God knows because He is already there. 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

As Moses passed the leadership mantle to Joshua, he said this in the presence of all Israel. What was Joshua thinking when he heard Moses’ words?  Israel had finished its 40-year wander through the desert.

For the second time, Joshua stood just outside Canaan.  Moses could no longer lead the children of Israel, leaving this unruly bunch in Joshua’s hands.  He probably remembered the good things about Canaan, the flowing milk and honey, but he also undoubtedly recalled the not so good things – the powerful native tribes, the fortified cities, the giant Anakites. Afraid and discouraged might have only begun to describe what Joshua was feeling.

Look again at what Moses said in Deuteronomy 31:8:  “The Lord himself goes before you…” God was there, in the land of Canaan, as Joshua stood at its boundary. How we must remember these words today! The Sovereign Lord is there when the doctor says “I’m sorry…” Jehovah is there when violence suddenly strikes.  
The unknowns that nag at me are not unknown to God.  He goes before all His children to show the way and give hope. 

While wandering in the wilderness, Joshua, along with the rest of the children of Israel, had visible proof of God going before them.  God took the form of a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night “to guide them on their way” {Exodus 13:21}.  God helped the Israelites find safe places to camp and to show the way Israel should go {Deuteronomy 1:33}.  As a father carries his son, God carried Israel through the unfolding future until they securely reached the land He had promised.  

Jesus, too, goes ahead to show the way.  After he healed a blind man, Jesus turned to the spiritually blind Pharisees.  Claiming the role of Divine Shepherd for himself, Jesus spoke about calling his own sheep by name.

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 

When it is Jesus who goes before you, you can count on finding hope to buoy you through future changes.  Jesus, in discussing his impending death with his disciples, foretold an event that distressed the men.  He said, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me…” {Matthew 26:3}.  But immediately after, Jesus offers this hope – “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” {Matthew 26:32}  

Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes – You have spent the last three years following, believing and loving this person you call Lord.  He has said that you will betray him, and he will die.  But then, instead of recrimination, he offers reconciliation. He will rise from the dead and he will go ahead of you.  Who wouldn’t feel hope when your Lord tells you that he wants to see you again, even after your betrayal? 

Even for those of us who didn’t walk with our Savior, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection offers hope because Jesus has gone ahead of us, all the way to judgment day.  

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”
Hebrews 6:19-20

The Everlasting God, the Unchanging God goes before me. He will not leave me fumbling in the unknown. When I lose my way, I can listen for his voice calling my name. When I feel adrift in a sea of change, I can anchor on the true hope that he embodies. When you sit in my spot at church, I can be secure that this change changes nothing.

See You In The Round,


*Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.