Friday, April 06, 2012

letting God go first

My first blog post as a pastor--feels very strange to write that!

If this is your first time reading this blog then let me welcome you!  This is a place where I hope to ponder faith and life—exploring the creating, saving, and blessing movement of God which encompasses and permeates all of our being and doing as we walk out our lives in this world.  It’s a place for reflection and interaction.  And it’s my hope now more than ever that as a pastor we can explore together what it means to be participating in this life together.

I want to return and look at Joshua 3, the passage that I shared back in March: 
Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing.
Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.” 
In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” 

And so they started out and went ahead of the people. (Joshua 3:1-6, NLT)
Notice how God calls for the priests bearing the Ark, the place of God’s presence and power, to move first into the new territory.  They’ve never been here before.  This is all new to them!  They’ll have to trust in the One who has brought them this far.  This moving ahead into the unknown is framed by trust, by waiting, by watching.

Now clearly this is a new chapter in the story of Israel, but this is also so true of our own journeys through life.  How often we find ourselves on the brink of the unknown.  This can range from major life transitions to our day by day decisions.  For all our planning and preparation we can never really know what’s coming, can we?  Our reactions to that unknown can range from worry and stress to carefree abandon—often to our detriment.

So what do we do with all this unknown?  Joshua gets us pointed in the right direction.  Are we learning to cultivate an awareness of God’s leading?  This might seem like something only some wise sage might be able to do: some expert or professional.  Yet this is simply not the case.  There is no primary prerequisite for the listening life—it’s not reserved for the spiritually elite, or the highly educated, or the religiously dogmatic—because this attitude is not something we conjure up for ourselves based on good behaviour.  Israel keeps us from thinking that we’re not good enough—they miss the mark time and time again!  Just like us.  Ordinary people, ordinary sinners.  In the Joshua passage I recall my own weaknesses, and somehow find myself still loved and accepted and restored by a God who loves.  The requirement for this listening life is relationship with the one who is speaking.  It’s a willing resolve to stop, to wait, to attend to the Other.

There is another reminder here for us: the Lord will lead you into that unexplored territory.  This is a part of the story he is writing with your life.  You are not abandoned or forsaken, he will lead through it.  Take hope in that. That he is weaving your life as a testimony to his name.

Are you learning to listen for his voice, to see him in your day to day life? There is no step-by-step guide to this; it’s not a list of moral characteristics that we can cross off as we master them. Our spiritual growth happens as we live into our relationships: both God and with one another. Learning how to trust another, like learning how to love another, can’t be taught overnight.  It’s learned over time in the living.

Be blessed this Easter, my friends.

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