FYI: I’m including some of chapter 13 in this post, since it really belongs with these two chapters. So you might want to refresh your memory if you’re reading along.
I don’t know if you remember, or even read, a recent post where I shared about relating to the Israelites walking in circles and not making much progress in their journey. After reading the few chapters today, I feel as if the only thing I have to offer today is my own personal wrestling and response. These chapters hit at home far too much to ignore (not to mention the subtle feeling that it is where God is leading- which in light of this passage I will err on the side of obeying even the most subtle of prompting!). I’ll try to be concise!
My husband Andy has been a pastor for several years. The Lord led us into planting a church at the beginning of 2012, and we did our best to faithfully steward the church until we felt the Lord was winding it down and moving us on last August (2014). We didn’t know what we were going to do, and then another pastor friend of Andy’s offered us to come over to his church and Andy could intern with the hope of going full-time after that internship period. We prayed about it and made the switch (with many of our small plant coming with us!- HUGE blessing to be able to stay with such dear friends!). Everything went well. The ministries that Andy was a part of God greatly blessed, and relationally we were fitting in well. I loved the pastor and his teachings, which reminded me a lot of my much missed days at seminary. At the end of February they offered Andy a full-time position (with a salary. Which was a really big deal for us because as you can imagine, church planting was not very financially stable). We were so excited, so much so that we realized that we hadn’t really even prayed and asked God what HE wanted us to do. We just assumed since everything was falling into place and He blessed our ministry there, that this was the next step. But we decided to pray about it, even though we were pretty sure we knew the answer. Well… we didn’t. God told us to say no to the offer. With no other plans. Needless to say it was extremely difficult. Not long after Andy was offered a position with a local ministry, Worship and the Word Movement, which also serves as the national leadership team for the international ministry 24-7 Prayer. However, the job had (has) one catch- it wasn’t salaried but instead was fundraising as a local missionary. WE HATE FUNDRAISING! Andy even met with our pastor and explained our concerns- we had never been able to financially make it in the past off of fundraising and so maybe this wasn’t the right job to say yes to. Our pastor responded by encouraging Andy that if we didn’t take a job at our church just for the money but to follow what the Lord asked, then we also shouldn’t not take a job because of the money. And so we continued on our journey.
Now, I would like this story to have been several years ago so I can follow it up with all the amazing things that God has done and a nice clean wrap up of how the Lord ‘worked everything out’. However, we are just early in the process. We’ve only been working on the fundraising for a couple of months (and have been very blessed!) but are not very close to our finish line yet. The prompting to share my/our story is not because it is a testimony to how God was faithful in an end result. I am at the very beginning of living these passages.
The new job has incredible opportunities. I can’t even express how amazed I am at some of the things that we have already been asked to do, not to mention things that are just discussions. I am in the scouting stage. I can see the land that the Lord wants us to take, and it is overflowing with milk and money. But the obstacles to take the land look substantial. The logistics to moving into the land are overwhelming. So much so that many days I’m fearful that it’s not possible. I get weighed down by the thought of not financially making it, and what that would do to our kids. I frequently wrestle with the feeling like I can see this awesome potential, but that there is no way to get there. And even though I feel as if God is leading us into this land, that we are going to die in the process of trying to get there. Does that sound familiar? In my own heart, I wrestle between being like all of the other scouts, and Caleb/Joshua. I can feel the war between flesh and spirit that is described in Galatians.
But one of the things that really challenged me in these passages is that the Israelites were so driven by fear, despite the many times God had proved He would take care of them, that God didn’t allow them to enter the Promised Land. He says that He will punish them by letting the very thing they are saying happen to them. They will die in the wilderness, but their children will inherit the Promised Land. Now, I have done my own grumbling. Frequently, and loudly at times. And it terrifies me to think that God has something different in mind, but I will live what I am afraid of because of myself. Because of my own lack of faith. God has done amazing things for me and my family. He has provided and taken care of us through some really hard situations. And when I forget that, I get consumed by fear of the obstacles in front of me. But I’m so thankful that this is where the Lord has us in reading. I needed the dose of reality. The Israelites got the dose of reality through the scouts dropping dead from a plague. It was way too late for the scouts to enter the land, but the Israelites took the dose of reality and tried to enter the land then. But it was also too late for them. But the Lord leaves this record for us. This was a warning for me before it was too late. A warning that God has done, and is capable of bringing me through all the logistical obstacles and into the land that He is giving us. He led us here! And He didn’t lead us here to see the milk and honey from a distance and die staring at it! How thankful I am for the warning and the reality check!
Thank you, Lord, that Your Word is living and active and applies to us and directs our steps! Forgive me, Lord, for grumbling, doubting and forgetting what you have done. Give me the strength, faith, and courage to continue to walk towards the Promised Land that You have for me.
Next Reading: Numbers 16, 17, 18