[This post started life as a post I was writing as part of my bigBible series on Spiritual Disciplines. However, as I wrote, the post drifted further and further off topic, and I could neither stop writing nor bring the words back under control, so I kept writing, then moved the post here and wrote a completely different one for bigBible]
I am Caleb and Joshua. Fearless, bold, focused. Trusting. I am not the other ten spies. They were wimps, morons. They couldn’t see God’s faithfulness and screwed up Israel’s future. I mean, do any of you even remember their names? They’re written down in Numbers 13 for all to see. But they’re forgotten. Only their role is remembered. They persuaded the Israelites to fear people more than they feared God. Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand,
…tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.
And so I am Caleb and Joshua. I do not fear men. I do not fear problems. I most certainly do not rebel. There’s only one problem…
You see, all too often, I’m more of a Shaphat than a Caleb. More of a Nahbi than a Joshua. The people in the promised land really are quite big. They really are quite scary. And yes, I’ve seen the same lovely stuff as Joshua and Caleb, I’ve tasted the same delicious grapes and pomegranates. But I’m just scared. Ok, so I might have exaggerated the size of the people currently in the land, but they’re no pygmy tribe, that’s for sure.
You see, a family I love is going through a tough time and it weighs me down. A community I cherish is in distress, and I take an emotional battering. I shift my focus onto the problems and begin to forget the Provider.
Maybe if I’d spent the week leading up to spying out Canaan at a big exciting event like Spring Harvest or Soul Survivor, I might have been a Caleb. But maybe not. The Israelites had had a varied run up to the spying mission. There were a couple of exciting things, like an almighty dumping of quail on the camp and a cloud hanging around to indicate when to move and when to stay put. There was the dedication of the tabernacle, but maybe when you’ve seen one silver plated weighing 130 shekels, you’ve seen them all… Then there was the little spat with Moses on one side and Aaron and Miriam on the other. There was also the little matter of God nuking the fringes of the camp (a downside of living life on the edge, if ever there was one…) Surely this might suggest an act of aggression on God’s part… And so God’s people could happily construct an argument for holding back from the invasion plan God had suggested.
Two trusted, ten didn’t.
But what about me? I need to learn to trust God. When I went to Spring Harvest half a lifetime ago, we sang, ‘though there be giants in the land I will not be afraid’. God promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but He didn’t promise an easy ride to take possession. He also promised His people that they would not be going alone. And neither do I.