“I will give you every place where you set your foot…” (Joshua 1:3)
But I can only begin to stake my claim on the things God has for me when I loose my grip on what I’m already holding on to.
“Moses, my servant, is dead.” God was inviting Joshua to understand that the past had gone; that he needed to start afresh. Similarly, in my life, in order to accept any kind of change, I begin by seeing that point clearly. Turn the page. Let go of the past. It’s time to move on. Edmund Burke said “The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.”
A hammock? Well, I guess it would have been easy for Joshua to lean back comfortably on the accomplishments of Moses, and to live in his shadow. Moses was a huge character, and a man of enormous influence in Joshua’s life. He was his mentor, his leader and his spiritual father. And perhaps he didn’t want to turn the page on that past. Perhaps it seemed disloyal.
And yet, looking a little deeper, the whole meaning of Moses’ life was wrapped up in the future that was now being unrolled before Joshua. It would have been the most profound disloyalty of all to pull back from it in the name of personal respect.
The past has passed.
I have moved house many times, and each time I have gone through that realization –as I pack and stack boxes – that I am not spring cleaning or de-cluttering but moving everything. Everything has to be involved in this forward movement.
And it is foolish to linger.
This is the Monkey-Trap syndrome. A Monkey Trap –though possibly folklore- is a cage containing a banana with a hole large enough for a monkey’s hand to fit in, but not large enough for a monkey’s fist (clutching a banana) to come out. It’s used to “catch” monkeys that lack the intellect to let go of the banana and run away.
I saw a version of this on The Simpsons, with Homer’s hand caught in a beer machine as the building burnt down. It transpired that the only reason he was trapped was that he refused to loose his grip on the can. Even the most trivial thing can retain a hold on you!
Let go of the past.
Loose your grip on the things that hold you.
Then you can begin to go into all that God has for you.