Gandalf, in The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, is famous for saying to the Balrog, “You shall not pass!” However, this is not true for us. We must continue to pass, to move forward in time. Our lives continue. Unfortunately, it is also true that we’ve not passed this way before.
Where Have We Been?
This past year with the COVID-19 pandemic is a great illustration of this. We continue to deal with virus that is new to us. New rules came into place for the way we live our lives. Fears became magnified for many. Our lives were turned all sorts of ways, not just upside down.
For me personally, these last few years have brought changes in my life. A later-in-life marriage with the bonus of children AND grandchildren was a positive change. The loss of a job and the need to re-define what I do and how I do it provided a different challenge. Assuredly, I’ve not passed this way before.
Yes, it’s true that history repeats itself. Differences have existed in every day and age. But, the agendas of today are new. Very sharp divisions are rampant in our government and even in our churches. In many ways, I think we’ve not passed this way before. At the least, the personal aspect of this journey burns fresh for most of us.
Which Way Do We Go, Since We’ve Not Passed This Way?
As we approached 1976 we were told that no major civilization had lasted more than 200 years. Now, we added over 40 more years to that number. But, are we now falling apart? Or are we on the verge of something new and stronger? For our world is the path ahead dimly lit? Where are we headed?
In the days of old, the people of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt. Through the mighty acts of God through the hand of Moses, they had been led to freedom. As a result of their rebellion, they had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Now, the promised land was in sight, just over the river. Before lay new adventures. Yes, there was excited anticipation. But, there were enemies to confront and battles to be won.
As the people prepared, the leaders went through the camp and spoke, “You have not passed this way before.” (Joshua 3:4 NASB)
Here I sit, on the eve of July 4, 2021, contemplating and writing about the journey we traveled and the path before us. Much like the people of Israel, change confronts us – often in our face.
We Can Find Directions for the Journey
It seems that we need the same instructions that those people received so long ago. “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God…then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” (Judges 3:3 NASB)
Granted we don’t have a physical, visible ark before us, but we have God, and we have His Word. As we enter the days that lie before us, we must choose to keep our eyes on God. We must follow His Word.
Another phrase from that passage is also revealing. “Do not come near it, so that you may know the way by which you shall go.” (Verse 4) I think the importance here is that we need to be careful not to get ahead of God. If we stay behind Him, we can see the direction of our journey.
Let’s choose to spend time in God’s Word, praying for discernment and direction. The path may not go the direction we want, but if we are following in His steps, the journey will be rewarding. Remember, we’ve not passed this way before…
A Hymn: Follow the Footsteps Because We’ve Not Passed This Way
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
“Come, follow Me!”
And we see where Thy footprints falling,
Lead us to Thee.
Tho’ they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep,
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead thro’ the temple holy,
Preaching the Word,
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
Then at last, when on high He see us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus that make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus where’er they go.
“Footsteps of Jesus” by Mary B.C. Slade, 1826-1882