A New Beginning

A movie that has always fascinated me is The Wizard of Oz. It took several years of watching the movie for me to realize that the characters Dorothy met in Oz were the same people she lived with on her aunt and uncle’s farm. Probably the most famous line in the movie is “there’s no place like home.” Dorothy’s efforts to get back home make it seem as if the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is her only hope and the power she needs is his to dispense. When the good witch tells her that she controls her own destiny, Dorothy is reluctant to believe it.

Inside every person is the potential to be courageous. Depending on what gauge you’re using, courageous can be anything from quitting your job to start your own business to saving someone’s life by rescuing them from a burning building. Sometimes it takes courage to just get up in the morning and face the day ahead of you.

One of the hardest things for me to do since I was divorced 13 years ago has been to settle down. I can relate to the Israelites time of wandering in the wilderness. Even though my journey consisted of only nine moves in nine years, I had no idea where home was or if I would ever unpack the few boxes that contained reminders of the life I had left behind.

For me, rest finally came when I was able to accept that my life would never be the same. As scary as it was to realize I could never go back, it was even scarier to think about moving forward. What finally convinced me that I could do it was the belief that God would be with me, I did not have to face the future alone.

The LORD commanded Joshua to not be afraid, to not break down or be terrified as he led the Israelites into the Promised Land. The LORD encouraged Joshua to move forward with these words. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9).

The knowledge that God is with us can make a real difference in our lives, but more than that, it can make a difference in the lives of our enemies. When Joshua sent two men to secretly spy out the land of Jericho, it says in Joshua 2:1 “they went, and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.”

Rahab the harlot became a Believer as a result of the miraculous things she witnessed the LORD doing to deliver his people from Egypt. In her personal testimony she states, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land” (Joshua 2:9).

Most people recognize miraculous when they see it. I think it is safe to say that anytime God does something miraculous, he is drawing attention to himself and to his people. Part of the reason it gets people’s attention is because it is out of the ordinary, it doesn’t happen very often, or it has never happened before.

The one thing that is completely unique about Jesus is his virgin birth, no one else ever has or ever will be conceived in the same way Jesus was.

When something miraculous happens, word gets out, people talk about it, sometimes in spite of our efforts to keep it a secret. The Israelites had a reputation in Jericho. The people there knew who the Israelites were and where they had come from.

For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when you came out of Egypt; and what you did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. (Joshua 2:10)

God’s miraculous deliverance of the Israelites changed the disposition of the people of Jericho towards them. The people of Jericho feared the Israelites because they knew that having the God of heaven and earth on their side meant the Israelites were assured victory.

Rahab’s decision to switch sides and protect the two spies that came into her home is not that difficult to understand. What did she have to lose? Her reputation as a harlot was obviously known to the spies and her knowledge of Jehovah was probably good enough for her to figure out that she would not be welcomed with open arms by God’s holy people. Her desire to become one of God’s people was so strong that she was willing to risk rejection and whatever consequences might come as a result of her sinful behavior in order to save alive her father, her mother, her brothers and sisters, and in fact she was able to secure the deliverance from death of every family member who sought refuge in her home on the day the Israelites attacked Jericho.

The day that I decided to kill myself by overdosing on sleeping pills, I had given up all hope of a different kind of life for me and my family. I believed my life was beyond repair. The words I spoke to God the night of my suicide attempt revealed that my deepest desire was for my life to be over, to never feel pain again.

Thankfully. Good understood and knew what I really needed, forgiveness and a fresh start. Although my reputation was not erased that night, I was given a chance to establish a new reputation and become a member of God’s family.

Uncertainty can be a cause of great anxiety, the more uncertainty, the more intense the anxiety can get. Even the best thing that happens in our lives involves uncertainty if it is happening for the first time or only comes along once in a lifetime.

When I gave my life to the Lord, I had no idea what would be coming next. All the problems and hang-ups were still there, but I believed my life was going to be different, very different from that point forward.

The crossing of the Jordan river was a significant transition point for the Israelites because it marked their entry into the Promised Land. The Israelites had spent 430 years in Egypt, 40 years in the desert, and now were about to enter a land occupied by a strong and fierce people. I’m sure there was a lot of anxiety among the people of Israel, but God gave them a symbol of his divine presence and authority, the ark of the covenant, to encourage them as they entered uncharted territory.

Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. (Joshua 3-4)

When the Israelites passed over into the Promised Land, they did not wade, swim, or float across the Jordan river, they walked on dry ground. “The waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant” (Joshua 4:7). A sign was established as a memorial of the event. Twelve large stones were carried from the river bed and erected as an altar in Gilgal as a testimony to God’s ability to establish his own order in the world.

The ark of the covenant was a lighthouse or safe haven of sorts that enabled the Israelites to do things that would have otherwise been impossible. It was not the ark itself that made it possible; it was the presence of God that enabled miraculous things to happen.

In my situation, God gave me a church as a safe haven, a lighthouse to help me weather the storm after I tried to kill myself. Trinity Baptist became my home and the people there like family members that nursed me back to health, but what kept me coming back each week until I found the answers I was looking for was the presence of God which I felt strongly each time I walked through the door. The face of the pastor, Dr. Winterton, seemed to glow with a joy and happiness I had never seen before. I knew I could trust the words he spoke because they resonated in my heart and told me the way I must go if I wanted to live forever with God in Heaven.

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