Tuesday, November 17th Joshua 5:9-12

“The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” And so that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, uneavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:9-12

Every day is an opportunity for us to take stock of where we are in life and where we hope to go. Like noticing a spectacular sunset, we might do that every single day but only seem to get there once in awhile. Most days, the sun sets unnoticed. And most weeks, we get so caught up in life that we hardly pay attention to where we are.

Today actually IS the first day of the rest of your life!

Live long enough and you will experience many such “first days” along the way. The first day of high school or college. The first day after graduation. The first day after a relationship begins or ends. The first day and the last day of a job. The first day in your first apartment. The first day in your new house. The first day after a child is born. The first day after a spouse has died.

Live long enough and God will take you to places that you have never been before, places where you feel ill prepared to face the new challenges – or you feel completely confident only to have your confidence shaken by surprises.

Today’s lesson represents a new first day for Joshua and the people of Israel. Their wilderness wanderings have now brought them into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. But life isn’t going to suddenly turn into another Eden. As a matter of fact, there is plenty of bad news that stands in their way. The first piece of bad news comes as they celebrate Passover in their new territory – God shuts off the daily provision of manna. Now they will have to go back to finding food on their own, making it on their own, creating a new life in the land their Creator has prepared for them.

Of course to say they are “on their own” doesn’t mean that God suddenly becomes absent or uninvolved. Young people might live “on her own” in college but still get plenty of help and support from their parents. And yet, such support doesn’t reomove the daily challenges they face as they balance school, work and play. They are the ones having to make the most of the opportunity that has been given to them. The people of Israel are the ones now facing that same reality.

Today’s lesson reminds me of the first week when I was “on the job” as a pastor. Fresh from the seminary, terrified that I was clueless about what to do, carrying a nagging sense that I had spent four years “learning” but couldn’t remember a single piece of practical information. But then, as that first year passed, I surprised myself again and again as I realized that I HAD learned a thing or two and, most important of all, I learned that my learning would never end. That every experience I had would teach me something else. AND that God was far more interested in the people I was serving than I was. And therefore God would not abandon me but would work through me if I was willing to show up and do my part.

So it is today, the first day of the rest of our lives. Ill-prepared or confidently ready, God never leaves us alone when God sends us off on our own.

Let us pray: Dear God, we look back through history and see signs of your presence in the lives of your people. We look back at our own lives and see those places and times when you did for us what we could no do for ourselves. Today, as we face the challenges of our lives, keep us mindful of your presence and the gifts you have given us that allow us to make our way in the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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