(by Heather Marshall)
Today I saw my first vibrantly colored leaf float slowly down onto the walking path I was strolling on and it reminded me that the season is about to change. The days are getting cooler and shorter; the lazy, hazy days of summer are coming to their end for this year.
With the season’s change, we may be resuming schedules and routines that are familiar, or we may be facing something altogether new. Either way, we likely have hopes and dreams for this season but aren’t certain how it will all turn out. One thing we can be guaranteed of is the Lord’s faithfulness to lead us into this new season as we depend on Him.
When the children of Israel were set to enter the Promised Land, they were about to embark on a season of change. Their long-time leader, Moses, was not going with them and he prayed that God would give them a new leader to guide them. “Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the Lord will not be like a sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27:17).
The picture here is of a shepherd guiding, providing protection and direction for his flock of sheep. Joshua, under the Lord’s guidance, was chosen to be this shepherd for the people of Israel. It would be his responsibility to guide the people through this season of change into the land that the Lord had promised them.
The people of Israel certainly had hopes and dreams about what the Promised Land was going to be like for them. Perhaps they hoped for a smooth, peaceful entry into the land or for an easy integration and establishment of their homes and livelihoods. Scripture recounts that, in fact, it was a very difficult transition as they entered the land. They faced battles and temptations, but through it all, Joshua was a faithful shepherd, guiding them and interceding for them with God.
Jesus (whose name in Greek is Joshua) is our shepherd and we are His sheep. In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself as the good shepherd and states that He knows His sheep by name and He lays down his life for His sheep. He is a greater shepherd than Joshua because He was able to conquer sin, death, and hell by dying on Calvary’s cross and rising again to God’s right hand.
As Hebrews 13: 20-21 states, “Now may the God of peace-who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood- may he equip you with all you need for doing his will, May he produce in you through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.”
As summer changes into fall and then into winter, what are your expectations? While these desires may not unfold exactly as imagined, we can be certain that our great Shepherd will equip us with all we need for doing His will and every good thing that is pleasing to Him. We have His power, His Spirit residing in us. When following His guidance, He will not lead us anywhere we are not supposed to be.
In Psalm 23 we are assured that with the Lord our great shepherd leading us, we shall not want. He promises us rest, restoration, and refreshment. He will also protect us from our enemies and even when we walk through the darkest valley, we don’t have to be afraid because He is close beside us.
The chorus from the new song “Cornerstone” by Christian artist Toby Mac encourages us that through the changing seasons and the ups and downs of life, God is the one we can trust:
Seasons come and seasons go
They take me high, then leave me low
But I’m still standing on the only rock I know
You’re my cornerstone.
Friends, just as the children of Israel could count on the faithful leadership of their shepherd, Joshua, we can trust in the faithfulness of our Great Shepherd. He will see us through every season of change because He keeps His promises. “Let us hold tightly, without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” (Hebrews 10:23).