Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
The setting is the edge of the Jordan River. The people of Israel have just spent the last 40 years wandering in the desert because the previous generation had allowed fear to prevent them from moving into the land that had been promised to them. Now, facing a rushing river, walled cities, and trained armies, they are on the verge of an unknown future.
Rather than looking back to where they had come from or cower from the obstacles in front of them, both of which the previous generation had done, their leader, Joshua, calls on them to dig into their connection with their God and prepare for amazing things that he was going to do among them tomorrow.
As Covenant approaches our 40th Anniversary we are on the verge of an unknown future. The world has been changing quickly and this pandemic has only accelerated that change. The past 40 years has not been wandering in the desert for us, but as we look at the tide of change and unanswerable questions in front of us, we must realize that the church of tomorrow must, in some ways, be different than the church of the past 40 years (or 400 years). When will things get back to normal? If, by normal one means the way things were . . . the short answer is never.
But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We can prepare for what is to come even though we don’t know what it is. We, you and me individually and together, would be well served to learn from the words Joshua gave to those he led several thousand years ago.
The world we live in is not going “back to normal” and if we try to, we will only increasingly distance ourselves from those we are called to love with the love of Jesus and invite to join us in the family of God. Covenant has, for 40 years, been committed to meeting people where they are and walking with them. If we aren’t looking forward, those we are committed to meeting where they are will have walked so far away from us that walking with them will be nearly impossible.
But this can be a worrying, perhaps even scary, thing to be looking ahead. It isn’t comfortable. We can’t know what tomorrow will hold so we can’t move into it with certainty or control. Thankfully, Joshua’s words speak assurance to us in this regard.
I don’t know what is on the other side of this pandemic river. I don’t know what obstacles and struggles we will face on the way. I’m confident that much of what we loved will be retained. And likely much of what made us comfortable will be lost. But despite not knowing what lies ahead, I’m glad to be walking there with you looking up and looking ahead with confidence because we know who holds our life, our future in his hands.