‘When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God … move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before’. (Joshua 3:3-4)
On Sunday evening the Queen spoke to the nation, bringing gratitude, encouragement and hope. She called us to rise up and overcome the current crisis, as the British have done in former times of crisis. But she acknowledged that this time it is different, it’s a global problem. And in that sense it is a new situation – we ‘haven’t been this way before’.
Sometimes it seems that our leaders are not sure what to do, which steps to take next. That’s hardly surprising, as it’s a new situation (how many times have you heard the word ‘unprecedented’ in the past two weeks??) It’s easy to criticise those in authority and be resentful and disrespectful – but would you want their job at this time?
When Joshua was crossing the Jordan, God sent the ark, the symbol of His Presence, to lead the way. When the Israelites were negotiating the desert, He led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. King Jehoshaphat, as Alison reminded us yesterday, when faced with overwhelming odds, prayed that very sensible prayer ‘We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you’. And of course Jesus Himself responded to the disciples’ question ‘Lord we don’t know where you’re going so how can we know the way?’ with the eternal words ‘I am the Way’.
In the desert, God didn’t just lead them from afar, He also provided everything they needed, usually in a miraculous way. (According to Deuteronomy 29:5, even their clothes and their footwear lasted 40 years without wearing out!)
So where should our focus be during this time? On our screens? Our gardens? Our unread books? Our children’s need for homeschooling or other stimulation? Yes, of course all these things can be good or necessary ways of using our time. But our primary focus must surely be on the One who knows the way ahead, who cares for every detail of our lives, who hears our every prayer, and who promises strength and peace to those who trust in Him.
‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you’. (Is 26:3)