Before and afterI’m not sure who first coined the phrase “change is the only constant” or when that phrase was first coined. I only know that I rarely hear it anymore. Not because it is no longer true, but because change has become so commonplace in the 21st century that it is passé to point it out.

The disorientation of change hits us with extra force when we begin a new year. Some changes are expected and even welcomed. My no. 1 son did well in his year nine exams and is looking forward to new challenges as he begins grade ten. Other transitions were not expected and not so pleasant. A friend begins her first year as a widow. Another begins his first year as a stroke victim, with no control whatsoever over the right side of his body. Transitions can be scary indeed.

Which is why I really appreciated the sermon I heard last Sunday. The speaker (thanks Chee Hai) pointed us to Joshua chapter one as a source of lessons on how to face transitions. It hit me afresh how scary it must have been for Joshua. For years he had served under the man himself, Moses. Now that was really a tough act to follow.

Moses was God’s special pal. He led the people through the Red Sea, for goodness’ sake! And now Mr.M was not around to guide and lead. Worse, Joshua had to put his size 6 feet in Moses’ size 12 shoes. It was now his duty to lead the people of Israel over the river Jordan to claim the promised land.

In that scary moment, Joshua discovers that, while Moses was no longer around, the God of Moses was still on the job. Indeed, God gives Joshua a command: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed?” (Joshua 1:9a NRSV). And just in case Joshua was hard of hearing, the command is given three times.

Note, God did not give a suggestion. He gave a command. Which may seem a little harsh until we realize why God thinks Joshua should not be afraid. Joshua should not be afraid because God commits Himself to be with Joshua as he enters the promised land. And I believe this is God’s word to all of us as well as we take our first tentative steps into 2002.

We do not know what awaits us. Indeed there may be giants that we have to face. (Some of us we already know the names of some of these giants!) But we do know that the Almighty God, who specializes in saving His people out of impossible situations, goes with us. The God who desires to lead His people into a land flowing with milk and honey leads the way. And He will not be thwarted. And so we are not afraid. We press on boldly.

Change the only constant? Nah. God the only constant.