Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

We've never passed this way before


"When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before."--Joshua 3:3



Think of the unlimited adventures you might stumble upon when an ordinary bush beside a quiet road bursts into flame. Maybe you will emerge, unhurt and unscarred, from a lion’s den of troubles.

With the old year in your rearview mirror, you are like the Israelites at the edge of the promised land.

Described in the Book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant was the holiest possession owned by the Israelites.

The Ark was built at the command of God and contained the tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. Some say that Aaron’s rod, a jar of manna, and the first Torah scroll also were within this most precious box.

Whatever it contained, the box was undoubtedly the most important symbol of God’s presence as the Israelites stood at the boundary of the land of promise. Behind them were the painful, bitter memories of slavery. Ahead was the land that flowed with milk and honey, made ready for them as God’s chosen people.

The leaders told the people that the Ark of the Covenant would pass before them, and wherever it went they were to follow. It was their spiritual compass because they knew not where they were going.

As you enter 2012, what awaits you? Perhaps great and wonderful discoveries, hidden from early view, will occur along the countless routes you take in this new year.

We are much like those wanderers. We are beginning a year of journeys we cannot accurately map in advance. Somewhere within the calendar’s pages, a young person will leave home for the first time, bound for college; a husband and wife will move into their first home, perhaps welcome their first child. Some families will experience their first serious illness or encounter moments of great sorrow.

What is the most precious possession you own as you move out into 2012? What spiritual compass will guide you where you have never traveled?

It is human nature to follow the treasure of our hearts. If the most precious thing you own is material, made by human hands, I can assure you that will fail one day. If money is most important to you, or the perceived security that comes with it, you will spend much of your life trying to protect it—only to discover you must leave it behind. If your love for family is stronger than any other treasure, experience will teach that you can lose a dear one as quickly as the blinking of an eye.

What is essential as you move on new pathways? With both opportunities and dangers ahead, you need a capable guide.

My friend, that guide is none other than God!

Although rivers may flood, high walls surround the citadel of hope, and valleys sprawl full of perils—although you have not passed this way before—this will be your best year if you steadily, hopefully, follow God’s leading. Having God as your guide does not make you immune to danger, but does assure you that, in all situations, you are not alone.

I think these words by an unknown poet say it best.

God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.

God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the laborer, light on the way, grace for the trail, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.

On Jan. 1, 1785, John Wesley recorded in his journal: "Whether this be the last or no, may it be the best year of my life!"

Make God the most precious possession in your life. Follow God’s lead, and you will know the direction to go. "Whether this be the last or no," I am determined to make 2012 the best year of my life!


Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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