As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you… Be strong and very courageous. …Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
I’m a creature of habit. I find solace in routine; and I’m frightened by change. But like it or not, change is here to stay. And in the Lord’s providence, change is good – especially when it’s scary.
Adam and Eve wanted to go back to the trees but no… they’re driven out east of Eden.
The wilderness wanderers wanted to go back to Egypt but no… on through the desert to Canaan.
The Israelites wanted to cling onto their old ways but no… exiled to the nations.
And the only way to redemption is to head East, to cross the desert, to bow their heads to exile.
We want to go back, to do it right, to reclaim our former glories. God calls us forwards and locks each door behind us, double-bolting it against our nostalgia. The only way is forward.
It’s written into every second of existence. Physicists call it the arrow of time. It points forwards and never backwards. The whole universe runs on an anti-regret, pro-redemption agenda. We may try to live against reality – to live in the past, or to hunker down and barricade ourselves against the future. But nothing stops the onward march of time.
And through it all God says “Don’t be afraid. I’ve got something better than the garden, better than Egypt, better than Jerusalem, better than your ‘green salad days.’ I’m making all things new. With me it’s not about ‘former glories’ but future ones. Step boldly forwards – that’s where I am. I am the God of hope.”
So as you look to the future, it might be harder than the past. It might be more stressful. It will be more uncertain. But the land of milk and honey lies this way. Through the desert and into the promised land. But, crucially, it’s through the desert with the Lord Jesus – a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, daily bread to sustain you and His presence to comfort you.
You don’t know what the future holds, but you do know who holds you.
Emma Scrivener was born in Belfast, but now lives with her husband and daughter in the south east of England. She suffered from life-threatening anorexia, both as a child and as an adult. She blogs at emmascrivener.net and her book, ‘A New Name’ is published by IVP and can be ordered here.