Even in my short life of 27 years, I’ve gotten caught up in movements, organizations, ideals that seemed like they were going to fix everything forever. New churches, new discipleship plans, new community development strategies, new vocabulary, new practices–they can each seem like the long-awaited, unfading, never-ending fix.
However, so can cell phones, and if commercials tell us anything, cell phones come and go with each NFL season, as regularly as the NFL players themselves.
That’s not to say that we can’t do good or do well. We can, and we should try. Yet, we should do so knowing that we’re only one small patch of the world, one small moment in time, and any progress we make will need to be handed off to others for them to continue, supersede, or neglect.
Consider these snatches from the last 5 verses of the Book of Joshua:
After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being 110 years old. They buried him…
Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel…
As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them…
And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him…
The beautiful thing is, Joshua’s generation, which talked big about staying faithful to God, lived up to its word. They “served the LORD” as they promised. Joshua and his fellow leaders and in particular the people did a very good job. We should look back and say, “well done,” because (in a good way) you can’t change the past.
You can’t change the past, but you also can’t secure the future. Joshua died. Joseph had died. Eleazar died. The buried them in the ground, and by the start of the next book of the Bible (Judges) the people make a sharp turn toward disobedience.
I think this should shape our perspective on today in three ways:
First, we should foster in ourselves the humility that comes from recalling that we are “but a breath” as the Bible reminds us.
Second, whatever we may invest in structures, organizations, and procedures, we must not fail to invest in the people whose decisions will shape the years after we are gone.
Third, we should should save a special type of hope only for our great God, who can fix forever, who has promised to do so. We cannot fix forever, but our God has already set his great fix in motion through Jesus Christ.
For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.