By Ps. Mark Banyard
Transitioning from the old to the new always involves a process or journey. If we are not committed to the process, we will not understand God’s design and how He works. Parts of the journey may be painful but they are God’s ways of refining us so that our faith may be made purer. It allows us to disengage from the old so that we will be ready to enter the new. The Israelites had left Egypt, but they had to go through forty years in the wilderness before Egypt left them.
Along our journey or process, there are gates. Gates are the keys to transition which we need to look out for. In real life, gates are either opened or closed. Closed gates keep us in and restrict us. But once a ‘God-gate’ is opened then it is time to go out. Gates give us access to other places, to things that God wants to bring us to in the realm of the spirit. In Acts 16:6-10 when the Apostle Paul was trying to get into Bithynia and Asia in obedience to God’s call, he could not, despite all his efforts. The gate was shut to him. Then he had the dream of a man from Macedonia telling him to come over. He woke up from the dream, understanding it was from God. The very next day they prepared themselves and off they went to Macedonia. It was then that the gate opened. He needed to go through the process of trying and then waiting on the Lord until the Lord made it clear. Very often we assume that we are supposed to go through every gate we see.
We need to discern between man-made gates and God-made gates. The Red Sea was the God-made gate which the Israelites had to go through in order to cross over into a new place. With Moses holding his staff outstretched over the waters, the waters parted and the people of God crossed over on dry land. When God calls us into new things, He takes us through gates of impossibilities so that we might see His miraculous power and know him in new ways. Such new knowledge is what will establish us in the new beginning when we get there. God forbid that we go through our walk with Him without seeing His power, signs and wonders! It took forty years for the Israelites to reach Canaan, but in that process they saw God and experienced Him.
Before reaching Canaan, the Israelites had to cross another gate – the Jordan River. Again, God parted the waters so that they could walk over on dry land. Do you know that in both the Red Sea and the River Jordan crossings there were baptisms? It was not a water baptism but a baptism of fire. A fiery baptism is usually in the context of facing challenges, it rarely occurs when we are in a comfort zone. The Red Sea and the Jordan River were gateways that God wanted them to go through in order to cross over. Man always looks for easy crossings, but God looks for one who sees no way of crossing but continues to move forward in faith because he knows God and His promises. He wants us to have a level of faith to see the impossible, to believe somehow we are going to cross over because this is the way that God is leading us. Are you willing to go through the gates even though they may be difficult? Like the Israelites who at one point wanted to return to Egypt, we could also be longing for the Grace Assembly the way it used to be 40 years ago. But God is moving His people forward. There is another generation that He is raising up. It is not about us and our process. It is about God and His process and whether we are willing to go through it. God makes a gateway where there isn’t one. If you are looking for one that you can see with your eyes, chances are it is not His gate. The Israelites saw the Red Sea as an obstacle, whereas to God, it was a gate of deliverance. It was part of the process of leaving Egypt so that they might then face the Jordan in another day which would be the arrival gate in God’s airport.
There may be seasons where we dwell in a place for generations. Then all of a sudden, God starts to move again and we have to move along with Him. But in every season God appoints and anoints leaders. I am personally convinced that the church in order to go forward needs to know who the leader is. Getting a new leader does not mean having a new king. There is only one King and His name is Jesus. We often confuse our loyalties to friends and to leaders with an allegiance to the King of kings. The Bible states clearly that Jesus is the head of the church, there can be no other. Pastors, elders or any other people with leadership roles are part of the body, like the rest of the congregation. We should expect God to speak to His leaders so that they lead us in alignment with what is in God’s heart and mind, but there is only one King and His name is Jesus. He is the great Shepherd and He sends to the flock those with a shepherd’s heart because first and foremost, His heart is for His people. There is no leader that God has loved more than He loves His people. God appoints them for the people’s sake. They are not to take advantage of the people and use them as a resource pool to carry out their own agendas. In this transition season, expect that God is going to appoint and anoint new leadership, but ultimately His desire is to make Himself known to you and to raise up a people for Himself. I believe this is a critical time when God is going to reveal to you the right people but just like the gates, they need to be discerned by those who are humble of heart, who seek Him and desires to do His will whole-heartedly. This whole process that we are in right now is actually an alignment of our hearts and our minds to God’s so that like an arrow shot from the bow, we can meet our true target. God is preparing us to move forward.
True leaders should understand that they do not speak from their own opinions, but from an alignment with God’s heart and mind so that when they speak, it is with God’s authority and power. They are not representing themselves, but God. Both Moses and Joshua were deliverers. They were both in the same transition with Moses at the beginning of it and Joshua at the end of it. Moses delivered God’s people out of Egypt and Joshua delivered them into the Promised Land.
Many important things happened in the wilderness. The Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law were given, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant were built, the Levitical priesthood was instituted and so on. When the Israelites left Egypt, they left as Hebrew slaves, when they walked into the Promised Land, they came through as a holy nation. All these happened in the ‘in-between part’. Likewise, there is always a God-story to be written of what God is going to do in your transition. When it hurts, just remember that God is trying to birth something. This is the promise of God. In every generation, He is moving us forward. Hallelujah!