New years and new semesters bring with them a tremendous amount of excitement, energy, and potential. If we are completely honest, they also bring with them more than their fair share of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. Sometimes the new beginning can be so overwhelming that we are nearly immobilized by the magnitude of it all. Frozen in our tracks. Not sure what the future might hold. Frightened to take the next step.
This is the nature of beginning something new.
At the beginning of the book of Joshua, we find the Hebrew people at a critical new moment in their existence. They escaped from Egypt a generation before and had spent forty years wandering about in the desert. The man who had led them through and within their wandering was gone, and they were uncertain about their next steps as a people. Into this moment, a man named Joshua was called to lead. Joshua had spent years following Moses as he led. And, now as the Hebrew people were steps away from entering the land of the promise, he was being asked to take up the mantle as the leader. This new turn must have brought with it a tremendous amount of excitement, energy, and potential. However, I am also sure that the moments were filled with anxiety, stress, and uncertainty.
"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' assistant, saying, 'My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.' " (Joshua 1:1-9)
Hearing the message of the Lord, Joshua son of Nun, Moses' assistant, took the next step.
Did he know where that step would lead? No.
Did he understand what would be right around the corner? No.
Was Joshua son of Nun without fear and doubt as he stepped onto the shores of the Jordan as he led the people into the land of the promise? No.
In many ways, Joshua was no different than you and I. He was a normal human with normal struggles and normal doubts. One thing that was for certain, Joshua was willing, in the face of uncertainty and the unknown, to take the next step.
That is what people of faith do. People of faith take the next step even if they do not know exactly where that step is going to lead. They step, not because they know where the step will take them, but because they know that God has made the same promise to them that God made long ago to Joshua. "I will be with you wherever you go." The step they take is a step that is rooted in these words. The courage to walk into the unknown of tomorrow rests in the God who has made such a promise.
And so they take the step...
and so do we. Each and every day, we take the same step. We walk with strength and courage into the unknown of this new beginning that we call today. That is what people of faith do.
As Dr. King once said about faith, "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
Here is to believing that the next step is worth it.
Here is to the willingness of spirit to walk into whatever comes next.
Here is to trusting that no matter what happens, there will always be another next step to take.
God has promised that no matter where we may find ourselves, God will be, and even already, is there.
"Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."