What are your obstacles this year? What are the things that you're looking at and thinking "I'm not sure how I'm going to do that?"

In previous years an "obstacle" for me may have been attaining something new. However, this year, my sense is that it is much more about finding consistent mental health and connection with those things important to me.

When our group met for the first time this year, Nick took us into the story from a few thousand years ago when the nomadic nation of Israel (numbering around a million or so) was facing an uncertain future.

They had traveled from Egypt to the border of a land called Canaan. This was a land fully occupied with large people and built up, well-defended cities. These nomads had the promise from God that if they went into this land they would be able to take it over, that it would be their new home.

There was a But. A big But. To get this new home they would have to go into this scary land and deal with obstacles presented to them despite having no comparable military might. Going into 2021 I feel a bit like this nation: I'm not convinced I have the strength necessary to deal with it well.

Nick shared the first two obstacles that Israel encountered.

The first was the river Jordan. It was flood season and the river was high. The people had no way of fording the river. The priests took the most holy thing that they had (the Ark of the Covenant) and stepped into the water. As they walked into it, the land became dry under their feet.

The second obstacle they faced was a walled city called Jericho. A typical battle strategy would involve some kind of military siege. Instead, as per God's instruction, the warriors walked around the city six times silently, once every day for a week. Then on the seventh day they walked around seven times and then blew their horns, finally shouted, and then: walls came down.

In both cases the people had to do something and it demonstrated their faith. They believed that the thing that they were going into was theirs - something was possible beyond what they could perceive.

The land I've been promised in this day and age is peace, comfort and a vision of what's truly important. These promises are increasingly more valuable.

I'm always at the edge of it. To receive this promise I have to give up my strategies of directly attaining or conquering things with my own arms but instead dedicate myself and put time to what is holy to me. If, like the city of Jericho, something seems to be indestructible rather than attacking it directly, it may take some silent patience trusting that my faithful holy dedication will yield fruit.