After my conversion to Christianity, late in life, I wanted everyone to know the forgiveness, acceptance, and peace I experienced from God’s saving grace. The Christian experience was not a fantasy. I knew that my experience was grounded in reality. What I did not know was whether or not God’s promises were applicable to me? What about Joshua? Did he know that God’s promises were applicable to him? What about you?
Immediately following the transition from Moses to Joshua God made a promise to Joshua. God said, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). Wow! You mean God said He would never leave or forsake Joshua. Yes, not only Joshua, but God also makes that promise to you. God’s children need to be constantly reminded of God’s presence. As you face the transitions of life, the assurance of God’s presence and His promises will sustain you.
Think back through this past week or this past year. Did you encounter some bumps in the road? Maybe a death in the family, a serious illness, a financial setback or at the very least a flat tire which made you late for an appointment was a bump in the road for you. Was God with you through the transition? Sure He was, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Joshua was reminded of the previous faithfulness of God. God was with Moses during some difficult transitions and Moses was aware of God’s presence. How many times does Moses refer to “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?” Too many to mention, but the point is that God is not just the God of three generations. He is the God of all generations. It was a reminder to Moses that God was with all previous generations, because God is an eternal God. The eternality of God is our benchmark to look back and see how God carried us through the transitions of life.
We live in a fast paced world, a technical world, and an image producing world. These characteristics do not serve well to remind us of God’s presence. So, you may ask, how can I be reminded of God’s past faithfulness. More particularly how will God’s past faithfulness affect my present circumstances?
Make sure you have a favorable relationship with God. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “believe and you will be saved.” Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to follow the ways of the Lord. Read the Word of God. You cannot and will not ever understand God’s promises unless you read the Bible. Read church history and don’t think for one minute that you will not be as spiritual as the next person. God’s promises to help us during the transitions of life are evident from reading church history. Two thousand years of church history reveals God keeping His promises and man breaking his promises. The failure of the evangelical church to teach church history within the agenda of Christian Education robs Christianity of the great revivals and reformations. To ignore nearly two thousand years of church history will create a vacuum in the demonstrated promises of God. Don’t deprive yourself of the joy of seeing how God has provided for and protected His children throughout the history of the church. God’s faithfulness is evident every day. And for sure, ponder those transitions you experienced and overcame by the grace of God! Write the transitions in a journal, because next week, next month, or next year you will need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness.
Most of us make it through transitions and say, “thank goodness it’s over.” During my undergraduate work at Columbia International University, I had the opportunity to become friends with many married students. A married student with a couple of children taking a full load was likely to face financial difficulties at one time or another. I remember one student telling me that he was thankful for God’s gracious hand as he went through some difficult times. We are all thankful for God’s gracious promises, but most of us often face transitions with uncertainty about the future. Do you sometimes have that feeling that the road up ahead has some big bumps? Do you wonder how you will make it over those bumps?
God told Joshua, “I will be with you.” The Hebrew verb translated “will be” refers to a future action as good as accomplished. It’s like your favorite basketball team leading by thirty one points with only thirty seconds left in the game. You could say “we’ve won the game.” When God called Moses to the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, God promised “to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land” (Exodus 3:8). God’s plan did not change no matter how many transitions the Israelites faced or how difficult they may be. For the Israelites in the Old Testament and the Christians in the New Testament, God’s great promise is His special and gracious presence. During the teenage years there will be an outburst of transitions. As teenagers become young adults new responsibilities bring more transitions. When a single person becomes engaged and marriage takes place, then you have life transitions. If your un-married daughter announces she is pregnant, your homosexual son comes out of the closet, or you lose your mate, then you are facing those transitions in life that you thought would happen to the other person. When the transitions come, and they will, remember God’s past promises are also future promises. Trust Him today for the rest of your life. The words of the Psalmist are present tense as he says “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God” (Psalm 25:1,2). The Psalmist also looks to the future with positive expectations as he says “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).