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Leaving “Shittim”

Read Joshua 3

“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Ever since I was a kid and first heard Captain James T. Kirk speak those works, I’ve been hooked. I admit it: I am a trekkie! Actually–we don’t call ourselves that anymore. Now we call ourselves “trekkers.” Imagine that – there is even a politically correct PHRASE to describe those who watch Star Trek. 

First it was Capt. Kirk–then Capt. Jon Luc Picard. Of course we’ve had other great figures come through our Star Trek universe: Capt. Catherine Janeway from the Star Ship Voyager; Capt. Benjamin Sisko from Star Base Deep Space Nine; and most recently Capt. Jonathan Archer–from the very first Enterprise (a prequel to Capt. Kirk).

Do you know why I like Star Trek so much? Do you know why it has become something of a cultural phenomenon? I think it has to do with the whole “journey” motif! You see there is something God has planted in many of us–probably all of us–that desires adventure and exploration.

That’s the premise behind Star Trek. Its all about the journey, the sojourn to someplace new–someplace they had never been before. Would it surprise you to discover that this is also a central, underlying motif in the Bible? Following God is NEVER a settled affair in the Bible. It is always an adventure. It always involves movement. It involves going someplace we’ve “never been before.”  It involves going someplace we’ve never gone before. We are sojourners going places with God we have never been before.

The JOURNEY, the sojourn, the trek into adventure is clearly seen in today’s text from Joshua.

God has been preparing the people of Israel. A lot has happened in the 40 years prior to their arrival at the banks of the Jordan River. Now they were at a place of transition, a place where they would be called to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from what they know to the unknown, from where they had always been to a place they had never been before. God has brought them to a place where they can hear and respond to the call of God to step out in FAITH and go to a place where they had never gone before–to The Promised Land!

Yet before they could take the next step on their lifelong journey, before they could enter the Promised Land–the place none of them had ever gone before–their would be some things that they would have to learn, some star charts to guide them on their trek.

Here’s a great insight–a brilliant insight, really. I am about to make an incredible profound statement. You are going to hear this and be amazed at my wisdom. Here’s a statement that reflects my years of training and experience. Are you ready?

To Go Where You’ve Never Gone You Have To Leave Where You’ve Always Been
(Wow–now that’s insightful, eh?)

Look again at Joshua 3:1 If you want to go someplace different, you need to leave Shittim! (Don’t laugh, it is in the Bible. You need to leave “Shittim”)

The people had been living in Shittim for a while. Now God wanted to lead them across the Jordan River into the Promise Land. To get to the Promised Land, you need to leave Shittim.

Anytime you ever set out on a journey to someplace new, you need to leave something old.  That’s the biggest fear many folks have when it comes time to grow, change, or move.  It isn’t that we are afraid of the new as much as we are afraid of loosing what is familiar to us.

This was a constant struggle for the people of Israel–especially while wandering in the wilderness.  They were always complaining and gripping against Moses for leading them out of slavery.

Some of you are in that place. You love the old–and that’s great.  We need to honor it, remember it, and learn from it–it is our history, our heritage. But it is NOT our life–Jesus is our life.  And it is NOT our destination–it is only a place we’ve been along the way. And it is not our calling–cause God is always calling us to someplace new!

There are some things we need to leave behind–individually and corporately–if we are going to continue this trek with God to a place where we’ve never gone before.

So here’s a question to consider:  “What’s your ‘Shittim?'”  Okay, let’s clean it up!  What do you (or maybe your church) need to leave behind in order to move forward with Jesus as your life?

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