The Untrodden Way
There are some things we never get accustomed to, no matter how often they may be repeated. They thrill us every time that they arrive. No minister, however long his ministry, ever gets accustomed to a death-bed. Nobody, however hard his life is, ever gets accustomed to the spring. And always, right to the end of life, when the New Year comes stepping up to greet us, it evokes a certain response within the heart. It is true we do not measure life by years. We live in deeds, not breaths. Our reckonings are independent of the calendar. They are regulated by personal experiences. Yet is there something in a common pressure that adds to individual intensity, and that is always so at the New Year. We are like Israel on the banks of Jordan. We have reached an end which is also a beginning. As back of us all there is a common journey, so before us is an untrodden way. What, then, does this old story give us, to hearten and to guide us, as our feet cross the threshold of the year?
The first thing it impresses on us is that for the untrodden way we must sanctify ourselves. "Sanctify yourselves," said Joshua to the people, "for tomorrow the Lord will work wonders among you" (Joshua 3:5). You will note that when Israel reached Jordan they were not immediately ordered to its crossing. For three days they lay upon its banks. They were remembering all the way the Lord had led them. And then enriched by memory and mindful of a love that never failed them, they were commanded to sanctify themselves. What that meant for them is a matter for scholars to determine. One turns to Exodus and to Leviticus to discover what that meant for them. What that means for us, as we look forward to another year, is to be gathered from the words of Jesus, "For their sakes I sanctify Myself" (John 17:19). Facing the untrodden way, we are to dedicate ourselves again to God. We are to give ourselves to the duties of our calling with a fresh and unres ...
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