God is With Us in the New Chapters
“Have I not commanded you? 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)
I know, I know. Today is Wednesday. I missed our standing Tuesday time together. You see, I always write Soul Deep on a Monday, this way you have something I’m freshly convicted of in your inbox Tuesday morning; but
this Monday was my 27th birthday.
You see, my husband and I like to do birthdays big. It’s a good excuse to surprise each other and spend special time together. So Monday morning, I woke up to a day-long itinerary of birthday activities, and between all that, writing a devotion slipped my mind. For those who don’t know, we’ll be moving from Long Island to North Carolina in just a few weeks time, so our schedule has been pretty jam packed between making time to see people before we leave, packing, and doing the due diligence on our new house down south.
So a few weeks ago, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to go to Montauk one last time. It’s been a while since I’ve gone, and I wanted to see something familiar before our landscape changes up. So Monday was jam-packed with Long Island things: bagels and coffee in Bridgehampton, pizza in town, and hikes through Shadmoor State Park, Camp Hero, and Montauk Point, where the lighthouse stands on the bluffs that plunge into the Atlantic at the very tip of the south fork of Long Island.
And I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but whenever I look out at the ocean from what feels like the end of the world like that, I always feel a little nervousness creep in. It’s hard to explain, but it always feels like uncertainty; like in a few short steps, I could fall off the face of the earth and be pulled out into a vast and unknown territory, completely out of my own control. And even though I know my feet are planted firmly on the ground, my mind still feels an inexplicable pull out into that scary, unknown place.
But life can be like that sometimes, too. Whether it’s a new job role that we don’t have all the confidence and training in yet, a new relationship that just starting out or coming to a crashing end, a big move that will change social circles, church family, and culture. Whatever it is we face, when that next step is seriously unknown, it feels like we might step out into nothing at any moment.
And you’re not the first person to feel that. In Joshua 1, Israel’s leadership switches gears from Moses to Joshua and God signals that it is now time for His people to step into the land that was promised to them through Abraham. After generations of wandering out in the wilderness– in literal nothingness with no home or stability to speak of– Israel was suddenly supposed to claim an entire land as their own. They had to now step out of the life they made normal, a vagabond existence, and step into what God always wanted for them: a permanent, earthly home far beyond anything they’ve ever known before.
But because they’re human, there is some level of nervous energy over whether or not they will struggle in this land that has already been promised to them. They’ve forgotten that the Lord has been with them everywhere they have been and provided for them whenever they needed. They’ve forgotten that God has proven his steadfast faithfulness to His people over and over again.
So God has to remind them to be strong and courageous. He has to remind them to not be fearful or downtrodden. Why? Because God has always been with them, and He’s not about to stop. And the simple fact is: if God is with us, there is nothing that can stand against us. If God is with us, there is nothing that we could possibly fear because God is sure to advocate for and protect those that He has chosen as His own.
So whatever cliff you’re standing on the edge of today, you don’t have to fear the vast expanse that lays before you, no matter how ominous it looks. And whether you have the courage to step out into it today or not, when you do take that step, you won’t step into nothingness. God is with you. He will make sure you get to the other side. You might not be in total control, but He always is, and He’s the better navigator anyway so you might just be better off letting Him take the lead.
For me, I’m getting ready to leave New York. The only home I’ve ever really known. Sure, I’ve lived in Africa and gone to college, but I always knew I would eventually go back to my New York home. Now, I’m heading into something completely new. And while that might be scary, I just keep reminding myself that there are two hands I get to hold as I step out. The first is God, who is always with me, and the second is my wonderful husband, who God gave me to experience every adventure with.
I don’t know what comes next, but I know God knows it, and somehow that makes everything all the more exciting.