By Andrew Glidden
I recently had the opportunity to try out a Virtual Reality headset. What made the experience even cooler was that I took on the role of Batman, the Dark Knight himself. As I descended into my Bat-Cave, I remember feeling so engrossed in my new reality, I was convinced one step forward would send me plummeting to my not-so-cool-superhero-death. Living in a new reality can sometimes be fun, but sometimes our transition into a new reality can be challenging and scary.
In The Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee finds himself about to take the first step outside his beloved Shire. Bilbo’s words of wisdom come to mind, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to” (J.R.R. Tolkien). Like Samwise, we have moments in our lives where we realize we’re not in “the Shire” anymore.
Our new reality can be something that we choose, such as going to university. You pick the school you attend, pick your classes, go to orientation, and though there are still many variables, this is a new reality that you have chosen for yourself.
But what about the times your new reality chooses you? It could come out of nowhere, like a dodgeball to the face that you don’t see coming until the last second. How do you transition into a phase of life that you did not see coming? You can try to dip, dive, duck, and dodge all you want, but your world, as it was, changes forever.
What do you do when there is a death in the family, or your best friend moves away, or your boyfriend breaks up with you unexpectedly? Or when the university you were banking on is no longer an option, or the scholarship you were relying on doesn’t come through?
The truth is, we can’t stop these new realities from happening. The real question is: What will we choose in the midst of the shift? Will we be overcome, or will we choose to overcome?
In the Old Testament a man named Joshua found himself entering a new and unexpected reality. After wandering if the wilderness for 40 years, he succeeds Moses as leader of all the people. Not only that, but it was now time for Joshua to lead them into the land God had promised them so many years previously. While Joshua may have felt blindsided by his new reality, God doesn’t just leave him there.
There are three things we can learn from Joshua’s story about overcoming our new realities.
Where you go, God is there. When we transition to something new, it is very easy to feel alone. When we arrive on a new campus, and our parents drive away, leaving us alone in our new reality, we can be confident that God is with us. Consider Joshua 1:9 “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (ESV). Ask yourself: Have you ever had a time where you felt alone, but afterward saw how God was present?
Finding God’s promises gives us confidence.
If you knew something was a guarantee in life, would that not give you confidence in what you are doing? If you knew that you were going to score four goals in your next hockey game and be the MVP, you would have substantial confidence going into the game.
Joshua was able to be strong and courageous not because of anything he did or was going to do, but because of the promise God was wanting to fulfil. When we transition into new things, we can be strong and have courage because of the promises God has presented to us through His Word.
Consider Joshua 1:6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” (ESV). Ask yourself: What promises of God can we hold on to when we are going through a time of transition?
Studying God’s Word guides us.
About two months ago I was thinking how nice it would be if I could lose about 20 pounds—I’m what my mom used to call “husky.” So for about two months, every night before going to bed, I would wish in my mind that I was 20 pounds lighter. The craziest thing happened. One day I just woke up and I had lost 20 pounds! I didn’t have to eat differently, exercise, and really I didn’t have to work for it at all! It just happened!
Of course I didn’t lose 20 pounds by just wishing for it. How often do we want the benefits of being a Christ follower without doing all the work? If we are going through a season of change and transition, we can’t just expect it be a smooth ride if we aren’t putting any work into knowing God and His word. God says to Joshua that he needs to meditate on it day and night. It is only when Joshua does the work of knowing God’s word that he will be successful in his new reality.
Consider Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (ESV). Ask yourself: Why is it so hard us to study and meditate on God’s word? What are some ways we can fix these problems?
Change is hard. Transitions are hard. Being thrown into a new reality is hard. However, when we recognize that God is with us, we rest in His promises. When we study His Word, our new realities become more manageable. If we do these things it doesn’t mean everything will be sunshine and rainbows. What this does mean is God will use this time of transition to transition us more into the likeness of His son Jesus Christ. And that is the ultimate reality we should all be aiming for.