It was a very, very special day on Sunday. Our Ruby Wedding Anniversary. Forty years together is something worth celebrating, and for once, we did it in style. Lovely church service, then buffet lunch for the church, family and friends, followed by a concert of talented friends and family members. We’d ordered the buffet, and planned for our bit in the service, but when we walked through into the room for the lunch, a delightful surprise awaited us. Our kids had decorated the place so beautifully, it was amazing! Festooned with balloons, tables beautifully arranged with hand made decorations, and a host of other thoughtful touches. We didn’t know anything about it till we arrived, but they had put so much love, effort and creativity into preparing the place for us, and making it all extra-special.
When the children of Israel were on their way to the promised land, God went before them to prepare the place, and get it ready for them (Exodus 23:20-33). He sent an angel to guard and guide them. He blessed their food, water and health. He gave them a fierce reputation and equipped them with skills to defeat their enemies and clear them from the land in good order. He made the land fit for them to conquer and dwell in, and he gave them laws to make them fit to move in.
This passage reminds me of John 14:2-6. Jesus told his disciples he was going to prepare a place for them. He would guide them, for he was the Way. He was going to defeat the enemy of their souls on the cross, to make their entry into the land possible, and he had taught them a new way of living, to make them fit for the kingdom.
Jesus has done it all. He has made a way for us to take up residence in the Kingdom of our God. The invitations have gone out and the tables have been set. All has been carefully prepared. For the Israelites there were many battles to fight before they could take up residence, but God would teach them how to do it effectively, and enable them to get the victory. Funnily enough, that was a forty-year walk too, and then some.
For us too, moving forward in God’s Kingdom takes a lot of effort. Jesus has made it possible, and his Spirit equips us for the fight, but we are required to press on and press in. When weariness overwhelms us, or troubles dampen our enthusiasm, or complacency dims us, we need a fresh glimpse of victory ahead. Ask him to fill you again with his Holy Spirit and give you a fresh vision of all that God has planned for you. There’s plenty to celebrate!