I imagine the expression “at the crossroads” comes from the common scene, in the city or the country, of two roads or paths intersecting one another. A crossroads presents the traveler with a choice: turn, or continue on ahead. Even if one is planning to go straight through, a crossroads usually requires you to slow down, or even stop, to watch for traffic, and verify the way you should go. So a crossroads provides the traveler with a moment, long or short, for reflection, evaluation, choice and – possibly – change. The dictionary includes this as one primary definition for crossroads: a point at which a crucial decision must be made which will have far-reaching consequences.
It seems to me that the simple change from the old to a new year is like a crossroads. Of course you cannot “go back” or avoid entering the new year, but you still slow down or pause to check your direction and progress. Many moments or events in life are a crossroads: a birthday or anniversary, loosing a job or landing a new one, a graduation or a failing, loosing an old friend, or gaining a new one. Life, like a county gazetteer, is full of crossroads!
Just the other morning I read in my Bible about a crossroads for God’s people in the days of Joshua. It gave me great encouragement about facing my own crossroads in the coming new year — whatever may come. Let me tell you about it.
What I read was near the end of the book, as the once young leader, Joshua, was addressing the people of God, whom he had led into promised land, about his pending departure (death). What a crossroads this would be for them, without the godly Joshua, disciple of Moses, at the helm of the nation! He was their general, their preacher, their judge, and their leader. It would be hard to envision the path ahead without him. So the Lord moves Joshua to speak to the people, beginning with these words (23:2–3):
Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. 3 And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you.” [all verses cited are ESV]
As they near the crossroads, Joshua directs them to think not about him or his victories and accomplishments, but of the ‘LORD your God.’ He also calls them to live in faithful obedience (23:6–8) to the One who has been so faithful to them. God’s people, at this juncture, are to continue forward without him — but with the LORD their God! Joshua, speaking to the people, highlights God’s faithfulness in all His promises (23:14):
“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”
What a huge ‘green light’ at that crossroads! What encouragement for those early possessors of the Promised Land, to look beyond their leader and his passing away to the abiding presence of their covenant God — who has a perfect record of faithfulness to them! Remember, it was to young Joshua, at the death of Moses, that the Lord gave this tremendous promise: Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:5b)
This encouragement can be ours as well, if we put our trust in the Lord at every crossroads we encounter. Picture the life situation of a crossroads literally, as though you were driving the car of your life up to some daunting interchange. Our tendency is to scan the road, look at the lights or signs, check the dashboard gauges, and proceed as we deem best. Sometimes we consult a map, or notes we’ve jotted down. Yet the words of Joshua would remind, and encourage us, that we do not travel alone. The Lord goes with us and before us – His directions, already given to us, are faithful and sure.
I am here reminded of two passages in the New Testament, recording the words of Jesus. The first is His declaration of the ongoing faithfulness of the Word of God: For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18). Also the precious words of Jesus (echoing Joshua 1:5), promising His presence: I will never leave you nor forsake you! (Hebrews 13:5).
How we proceed at a crossroads often has ‘far-reaching consequences.’ How thankful we ought to be for the Lord’s far-reaching faithfulness!
My friends, as you find yourself at a crossroads in the coming year, remember the approach of Joshua, and look not to your own resources, but the faithful promises and presence of the Lord. Hide those promises in your heart; have them with you day in and day out. Act on the presence of the Lord and converse with (pray to) Him often throughout your day. He will be with us until the end of the road.
Yours by divine mercy,
Pastor David Bissett