Often as we come to a new year, people picture it as being a highway marked 2017 or whatever the year may be. Truth is there are easily 365 highways we’re going to travel, each one of them with a sunrise and sunset and in-between, there may be wind and rain, heat and humidity. Scripture records in Joshua 1:3 that when God brought His people to the Promised Land, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” They were about to go into the Promised Land and God was with them, but there were going to be challenges, opportunities, joys, and jolts they would experience as they travelled. It will be that way down Highway 2017, or down each one of those side roads day-by-day. Let me point out four wonderful truths that have similarities between what the Israelites were facing as they went into the land and what we are facing as we enter this new year.
The first truth I would mention is that it is unfamiliar territory. Not one of us has ever been down this road. The writer of Proverbs says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (27:1). You and I do not know what tomorrow holds. We do not even fully understand what today holds. I have a friend who lived by a thought often repeated to his friends and coworkers: “Plan your work and work your plan.” I remember the first time I heard him say it years ago, and thinking how clever and important that is to do. As he knew and as I certainly have experienced, life is filled with a multiplicity of detours. Planning your work is good, but working your plan is not always an easy matter. What we can and must do, though, is trust God for each step, each decision, and each plan. He knows where we are and where we need to be, what we’re doing and how we can get done, what needs to be done, but on the other hand we live day-by-day in unfamiliar territory. You may be young and some of the things you are facing are unfamiliar and you’re trying to figure life out. You may be in mid-life but you are still in unfamiliar territory, and only God can guide you through the difficulties that you may face, the decisions you need to make, and the destination toward which you are headed. He knows and you do not.
The second truth that I would point out is there are unexpected transitions. In the story of Joshua, a whole nation of people had never known one day without Moses as their leader. The stories of what he had done and the magnificent leadership that he had given as he stood before the Pharaoh and led God’s people out of Egypt and brought them across the Red Sea and into the wilderness and all the way to the Promised Land and then through the wilderness wanderings, proved he had been a great leader. The people grew up under his tutelage. They listened to his voice and watched him as he led and served but now, well, now things were different. Moses was dead and Joshua was the new, untried leader tasked with taking the Israelites into the Promised Land. Every one of us live with unexpected transitions taking place in our lives. You may lose a job or go to a new job and there are unexpected transitions there. A friend dies. Your mate passes. Children lose a parent. Life gets difficult. A new leader. A new friend. A new fellow worker comes into your life, and it is not always easy to adjust. God knows what He’s doing. He knows we have struggles with transitions. He comes and affirms to us that we can trust what He’s doing and trust where we’re going and trust Who is leading us.
A third truth I would bring up is that they had unanticipated troubles. I am convinced that troubles are just a part of the living process. I know we get in trouble when we make wrong decisions and go the wrong direction, but troubles are just a part of our lives. Whenever sin came into the world, the world was filled with weeds and thistles then, and all the products of sin are around us day-by-day and seem to get in our way and cause trouble over and over. It will be that way in this world. We don’t need to be down in the mouth and borrow tomorrow’s troubles today, but don’t be naïve either and just ignore that whatever road you’re going down — sometimes it seems like all of them – has its own pre-arranged trouble waiting on you. You do not need to be heavy-hearted and just throw up your hands in despair, for God will be with you. In the good times, He will be there. In the bad times, He will be there. Press on down the road in 2017 even with the troubles you run into around the curve.
There’s a fourth truth that I need to give you and you don’t need to travel without it: there are unlimited triumphs. As the people of God entered into the promises of God, what I’ve described above is factual but there were unlimited triumphs, too — touches of God, revelations from God, experiences with God, that were just astounding. You can walk through the Book of Joshua and see the triumphs unfold. A new leader takes them across the Jordan River. It was at flood tide, but God stopped the river and the people walked over on dry ground under His guidance and Joshua’s instructions. Soon after getting to the other side of the river and into the edge of the Promised Land, they came up against a huge obstacle: the city of Jericho. They were worried and in despair, and God said, “Watch what I’m going to do.” You remember the story that Joshua led them out to circle the city, once each day for six days and then on the seventh day seven times. Then God shook the place. God crumbled the walls of Jericho. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
Unlimited triumphs can be yours. The things you worry about so much, God can handle. The decisions for which you can’t find answers, God loves you and He still can handle them. He is not going to leave you nor forsake you. He is not going to turn away from you. He is going to wrap His arms of love around you and He is going to give you victories. Would you trust God to guide you every day in every way and use you to be a part of unlimited triumphs and great victories that will take place in His Kingdom work as we travel this road together?
God bless you, and Happy New Year!
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.