When the Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land, they received this instruction:
When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before (Joshua 3:3-4).
How many times in your life have you felt unsure of where you were headed, not to mention how you were going to get there? Going off to college, managing finances, getting married, taking care of children, working through heartache and loss--all of these experiences can leave us wondering what we have gotten ourselves into and how we are supposed to handle it.
Having a guide in front of us or at least beside us is helpful when we are getting from Point A to Point B for the first time. Even Google Maps will do. But when we are navigating the complexities of life, it's not always that simple. Our situations are unique, and there may not be just one way or even one best way to get where we are going.
I find comfort in the fact that Jesus has gone this way before, all the way to death and beyond.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Even though Jesus does not always make our path easy, he makes it easier by providing light--even if just a glimmer--in the darkness and by inviting us to come close to him. We do not have to follow the ark at a distance anymore. We can approach the throne of grace with confidence.
As we walk day by day and step by step in our journey, we should be willing to extend the same grace we have received to those around us. Every other person we encounter is still on his or her first attempt to survive this crazy world.
It's easy for me to be quick to judge, quick to condemn. Instead I should "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone" (Colossians 3:12-13). None of us has passed this way before.