You Go Before Us

Two little kids peer ahead. At the end of the hall is a huge pile of balloons, bobbing a little, inviting. With joy they run down to be engulfed in the multicolored cloud.

Maybe you can picture your kids doing something like that. Or, in a lighter moment, even you yourself.

But we don’t usually think of our whole lives that way. Our lives are filled with ups and downs, with striving and working through uncertain days and nights.

We have responsibilities and duties and obligations. And they are real ones, to spouses and children and parents and jobs and more. So we don’t usually think we are kids running down the hall toward a pile of balloons. We think the path we’re on is a conditional one, conditional on our improvement and strength. We have to discover what God wants us to do, and do it.

When I’m tempted to think this way, it is fantastic to consider Joshua. To picture the people of Israel massed on the plains of Moab, waiting to enter the land of promise. The place of rest. It doesn’t seem like it will be an easy run. There are obstacles and battles and even a huge river in front of them.

It is easy to hear “be strong, be courageous!” or “be careful to obey all the law that Moses commanded you,” and think that is the task for us. That’s certainly not running toward a pile of balloons. That’s a tall order, especially since I’m not particularly strong, courageous, or accomplished in the Law.

Until we realize… that those commands aren’t actually directed to us. They’re directed to the one who goes before us. Be strong and courageous, God says, to Joshua. Joshua, strong and courageous, will lead the people into the land of rest. Joshua, strong and courageous, will obey all that God speaks to him.

What a wonderful picture of our Joshua. When our path led only to condemnation and destruction, Jesus was strong and courageous. Jesus, our Joshua, obeyed the Father perfectly. He took on the world, the flesh, and the devil… and, through suffering and death, won. His blood covers our sin. His righteousness is ours forever. Simply by trusting in him.

By trusting, we are in that hallway, with much more wondrous things than a pile of balloons at the end.

And even when the hall seems dark, we know that this light momentary affliction is followed by an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17). This future is because of the wonder of a God that goes before us, a forerunner who has already made the path straight, a Savior who loves us forever. It is a joy to follow him.

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