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On the Side - February 2017

This Side of the River
by Sharon Chatwell

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

None of us knows what our future days will be like, but God knows.  The Bible tells us in Psalm 139:16 …all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

This means that no matter how uncertain or disorganized our days may seem, God knows what is going on today and He knows what will be going on tomorrow.

Our days, our journeys, our jobs, our relationships; He understands them all and He knows where they are headed: Unlike us, to whom the future is a mystery. 

In Joshua 3, the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, came to the edge of the Jordan River, in order to cross over into the Promised Land.  Forty years earlier, their forefathers had been given the same opportunity, but their faith had faltered.  As a result, they had to wander in the Wilderness, awaiting God’s perfect timing. 

This time the Israelites would cross the Jordan and take possession of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But perhaps they too had some concerns.  What if the stories of giants were true?  What if the walled cities were too high for them to overcome?  In their humanity, it would be impossible for them to do.

But these young Israelites, most of whom had been born in the Wilderness, knew that God had taken care of them there.  They had eaten manna and quail; and had drunk water that had come from a rock!  They knew if God could provide for them in the Wilderness, that He could certainly provide for them in the Promised Land. 

Or in other words… If God could take care of them on this side of the river, He could take care of them on that side of it, too.  God was the same.

Sometimes, when we come to the edge of a big change, our faith falters; even when that change holds the promise of a big blessing.  How do we go forward, when we don’t know exactly what the future holds?

Recently I had an experience like this.  I finished a writing project that had taken me years to complete.  I felt at once a great sense of relief and accomplishment, but with these also came a sense of fear about the future.  What should I do with it now?  Should I have my manuscript (a Christian musical) published?  Should I try to get it produced somewhere?  How would I even know how to go forward?

Suddenly my heart was full of wild imaginings.  What if there are giants?  What if the walls of the cities are too high?  Despite the potential of great blessing, I was afraid.  What if these risks were just too big to take?

But then, through God’s grace, I remembered that each day is just a walk with Jesus.  He is the same.  So, everything that matters to me is the same.  He still loves me.  He is still with me.  I can always rely on Him.  I can ask Him for things if I need help, provision, grace, patience, love, manna… quail… water.

I was better after that, and now I face a future that seems daunting in my humanity, but with Jesus is just another day of walking along with Him.

At this time of year, many of our medical families are preparing for big changes.  Medical Students are awaiting Match Day.  Residents are transitioning to different levels of training, or moving out into the “real world” of Practice.  And those, who are already in practice, constantly face the changing future of Health Care.

No matter where you and your loved ones may find yourselves on this spectrum, your immediate future may not be clear to you at this moment.  And, even if the changes that are to come are welcome and satisfying, it still means that things are going to be different than they are right now; and that can still be a challenge.

What can we do then, about the future? 

Obviously, there is very little we can do.  The future, as I said, is a veiled mystery to us until it actually occurs.  And sometimes that can feel a bit frightening.

We can, however, take comfort in the One who has promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”(Hebrews 13:5, Deut. 31:6.) God will be with us in the future, just as He is with us now, and just as He has been in the past. 

God is the known quantity that allows us to face the future with assurance and peace.  Everything around us may change.  But He does not change. 

Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;”

Joshua and the Israelites certainly couldn’t have crossed the Jordan and taken the Promised Land in human strength alone.  They had to rely on God’s provision and His power.  He had to be with them and walk with them every step of the way.

Similarly, the way for us to go forward into an unknown future is to remember who is with us; and to remember that He is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Jesus is the same.  He is still with us and we can always look to Him. 

If the giants are too big, He can slay them – like He helped David slay Goliath.  If the walls of the cities are too high, He can bring them tumbling down – like He did when the walls of Jericho fell.  All we have to do is be faithful and keep walking.

The trick is to remember back.  What has God been doing for you?  Has He been with you continually, as He promised, and has He been taking care of you and leading you every step of the way?  Of course, He has!

That is our hope.  That is our source of peace and security.  Even if everything around us changes, even if we have new challenges, even if we leave friends and family, God is still there.  And He is still the same.  Nothing else matters.

So, whether you are standing on this side of the Jordan River, or that side, remember that God is there with you.  He knows what is going on, He loves you, and He is providing for you… whether it is today or tomorrow.

Sharon is a Christian writer who lives with her physician hubby in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska.  She wishes all of you, who are patiently waiting to find out where you are going next year, all the best.  Her prayer is that you will have a peaceful and smooth transition to your new location.  She remembers the day she moved to Lincoln, which was the last place she would ever have imagined living!

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