Jesus is quoted as saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27). In the wake of the mass murders in Buffalo, New York, I am sure some are wondering just where is the peace Jesus promises.
The answer, my siblings in Christ, is that it is truly all around us. The confusion comes when we mistakenly look at the peace the world offers as being equivalent to the peace Jesus gives.
What is worldly peace? Most would define it as a lack of conflict. Sounds good, but truthfully, isn’t there always conflict somewhere: globally, regionally, at home?
The world gives peace conditionally. I do for you, you do for me. There’s a sense of indebtedness, perhaps mixed with a little guilt trip.
Can we really have worldly peace? In prosperity? Does it give peace, or does it generate more angst about protecting it, or worrying if it is really enough.
Worldly peace is an allusion. A wispy, far off promise that never quite comes true.
Not so with the peace Jesus gives. The word for the peace Jesus gives in the original Greek is translated as serene in English. More than merely a lack of conflict, it carries with it the connotation of restored relationship; with God. Which is what Jesus had come to do (and has done!) and is still doing!
So my friends, I encourage you to live in and into the peace Jesus has given us. Use the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that lives in, through and all around us. Need a reminder of these promises? One of the primary reasons she has been sent to us is to remind us of all Jesus has said, promised and done.
Lastly, don’t allow yourself to be afraid to live. Rather, bask in that serenity Jesus gives. Do we need to be evermore careful, even cautious as we live day to day? Sure. But don’t let that keep you from living lives of active, joy-filled love. Being aware of troubles in the world may just help us look for and find the serene peace Jesus gives. Here’s a little prayer that helps me remember to do just that:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
As we walked Violet, our Goldendoodle, early this morning, my wife Betsy asked what I had planned for my day. I listed several chores I was going to do around the house and added that I hoped to publish a blog, if only inspiration would come. I explained that the well had been dry the last few days, but I was remaining committed to share what I believe God puts on my heart.
Things still appeared a bit dry, even as I began to research John 11, the raising of Lazarus, as a possible blog. It was at this time that my phone let me know I had a new text message from our dear friend Cheryl. (I highly recommend checking out her blog, Care for Parkinson’s, found here on WordPress, to get to know her as we have. She is a blessing!)
Anyway, Cheryl shared a devotion for today that had spoken to her in such a way that she wanted Betsy and I to have access to it as well. Having now read this, I feel the prompting of Holy Spirit to share some thoughts on this passage of Scripture. Thank you Cheryl for the nudge I needed today!!
Chapter 14 of Matthew’s gospel contains the familiar account of Jesus walking on the turbulent sea toward the boat the disciples were struggling against the wind in. Verse 26 tells us what they felt as this unexpected sight: When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. (NIV)
Jesus then attempts to assure them that it is indeed Him, and they need not fear. At this point Peter speaks up, “Lord, if it is you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28 NIV)
You probably know the rest of the story: Jesus tells Peter to come to Him on the water. Peter jumps out of the boat and does start to walk on the water, only to start sinking when he took his focus off Jesus and put it on the waves all around him.
Lessons abound on this point, as much has been written and said about Peter’s apparent lack of faith. Even Jesus points this out to the Twelve when He and Peter get into the boat with them as He chastises them for having doubt instead of faith.
To be honest, I sometimes want to get a little judgmental toward the disciples. I mean, they had seen Jesus do so much. He had healed many and produced food for thousands out of basically nothing. His teachings and overt actions of love toward so many had been witnessed by this select group.
But I am not in judging mode today. Today instead of pointing a figurative finger at the disciples, I am instead marveling that Peter got out of the boat at all. I do not have much experience being aboard boats, save a few canoe trips (on a calm pond) and sight-seeing cruises around The 1000s Islands here in Northern NY.
This makes me appreciate all the more what Peter did. At least he got out of the boat at the invitation of Jesus. We can safely assume he was as startled/scared as any of them at the sight of someone walking toward them on the water; water that the 12 had been struggling to cross for some hours in the dark of night.
Yet, Peter got out of the boat. I believe I understand a few things better now as I re-read this narrative. First, Peter asked Jesus a specific question (If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water. V. 28) to which Jesus simply said, “Come.”
Despite what he was feeling, Peter heard from Jesus, and got out of the boat. He could have stayed aboard with the others, waiting to see how this played out. Sure, it was windy and wavy, but he was an experienced mariner and probably knew he would survive this squall as he had many others before. Lesson received, Peter: Don’t stay paralyzed in a circumstance. Rather, seek Jesus. Ask Him what to do and then act in faith on His response.
This took a fair amount of courage on Peter’s part. Talk about literally stepping into the unknown! He trusted in Jesus, and got out of the boat! And for a few wondrous moments, he too was walking on the water. Next lesson from Peter: There may well be great wonder when you step out in faith. To get the fuller extent of this wonder, we need to keep our focus on Jesus. It is my intention to do so, but I/we all know that the world around us is often in upheaval, revealing things that often vie for our attention. Thanks to Peter’s example, I am going to make a better effort to stay focused on Jesus.
Yes, I plan on getting out of the boat more often because the One who calls me to is ever faithful. He will not allow me to fall by the way, so long as I realize I need Him for every step I take (be it on dry ground or not!?).
How about you? Any ‘getting out the boat’ experiences you would like to share?
I would love to hear them.
As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate your time.
One of the suggestions I took seriously as I entered into recovery from alcoholism was the need to develop an attitude of gratitude. This required a total realignment of how I perceived things, as I had for so long only seen the negative and dreaded everything that was to happen. Existing in this black hole left me no option toward optimism or thankfulness about anything.
It turns out that my early mentors in recovery were correct: I had to adjust my way of thinking to develop a new way of life. Though it has not been easy to maintain the gratitude attitude all the time, I am happy to report that it has become easier the longer I have stayed away from booze.
Another of the practical tips my newfound friends gave me was to purchase and read daily the Twenty-Four Hours a Day book, known affectionately to AAers as the ‘little black book.’ This book contains daily readings and insights from others in recovery as well as prayers that are designed to help the one in recovery to navigate another day clean and sober. Like so many of their other suggestions, I took them up on this and am so happy I did.
I do read from it every day. In fact, I have been at this so long that my original copy fell apart and was replaced two years ago. I would like to share an excerpt from today, January 22nd, that has reminded me again of the importance of maintaining an attitude of gratitude:
Meditation for the Day
I will never forget to say thank you to God, even on the grayest days. My attitude will be one of humility and gratitude. Saying thank you to God is a daily practice that is absolutely necessary. If a day is not one of thankfulness, the practice has to be repeated until it becomes so. Gratitude is a necessity for those who seek to live a better life.
Prayer for the Day
I pray that gratitude will bring humility. I pray that humility will bring me to live a better life. (The above is quoted from Twenty-Four Hours a Day, Hazelton Publishing, for January 22nd)
Learning to thank God one day at a time for this chance He has given me has helped me to be a more grateful person. Yet, this does not come naturally for me. I can still to easily lose my focus on what God has done for me if I allow myself instead to concentrate on what I do not have as opposed to what I do. I must remember that it is my choice to live in this gratitude. When I do, I have such a greater appreciation of the world around me, and my place in it!
When my attitude is wrapped in gratitude, I am truly a ‘glass half full person.’ Not only am I more optimistic about the world around me, but in recovery I know exactly what my half-filled cup has in it (either coffee or Pepsi!).
It truly is a matter of perception. With a grateful heart/mind, I can have a much fuller and better appreciation of things. And when I start to look at the empty space instead of what I have, I need to pour the contents of that proverbial glass into a smaller one, thus reminding me to focus on what I do have going for me instead of lamenting what I don’t.
How about you? What are you grateful for today? And if like me you struggle in this area sometimes, what do you do to pull yourself out? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
I write this two weeks after getting the first of two Moderna vaccinations against Covid 19 and am glad to report that none of my God-given appendages have fallen off nor have I sprouted a third eye (or anything else, for that matter).
Let me be clear at the outset, I am aware and understand that some people have heath issues that make getting vaccinated a risk to them. As always, I encourage folks to follow closely the instruction and direction of their medical care providers.
I write this today to those who may have a more general misgiving about this particular vaccination. As I stated in an earlier blog, I did some research and more importantly spent some time praying about this. My prayer was specific in that I asked God to reveal to me any reason I should hesitate to receive the shot. I have been blessed to be a person of prayer for some time now and have come to have a deep trust in the God I pray to. So when nothing negative was revealed to me, I gladly rolled up my sleeve.
Trusting in God was not only key in my decision to get vaccinated, but it is also my default setting whenever there are decisions to be made in my life. “That’s great for you, your a pastor guy,” you might be thinking. Believe me, my calling has no special bearing in getting heard from above. Really, the trust is built as it is in any relationship: Getting to know the other person in a deeper way.
I know of only one way in which to do this; that is to take the time needed to nurture it. With other people, it usually involves asking questions, listening to the responses and watching to see if what is said matches up with how they live their life. If I see inconsistencies, I will withhold the appropriate amount of trust.
But if their sincerity is matched with integrity, the door is wide open to walk through. I have applied this same approach with my relationship with God. I have found that He is who He says He is and His working in my life and the lives of countless others has backed up what He has promised.
I started writing this earlier in the day solely to encourage you to be thoughtful about getting vaccinated against Covid 19 when it becomes available to you. I firmly believe it is the next right thing to do, not only for yourself, but also those with whom you share life.
But as I wrote, I seem to have moved into another recommendation: to seek out the God of heaven. And not just to seek His guidance about getting the shot, but also to encourage you to step out in faith and develop your end of the relationship He offers you. He is there and patiently waiting, even if I should develop something untoward like an eyestalk.
Two for One! Retailers of all sizes have been using this sales pitch for as long as I can remember. Reading those ads or hearing it on TV sounds so appealing: Simply pay the asking price for one item and receive a second one free (with the disclaimer: of equal or lesser value).
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and before mega malls squashed small family businesses, I managed a retail shoe store. We sold men’s, women’s and kids shoes. Twice a year we would run a 2 for 1 sale to move remaining inventory to make room for new. The sales gimmick would work to an extent, but folks with average size feet usually found the selection pretty well pick over.
But enough about shoes, let’s turn our attention to the next of the miracles of Jesus found in John’s gospel. As we do, we will actually find two miracles in Chapter 6, verses 16-21. A supernatural 2 for 1, if you will!
These events occur on the evening of the miracle of the loaves and fishes we looked at last time. After Jesus had miraculously fed 15,000 folks by multiplying five loaves of bread and two small fish, the Lord escaped from the crowd to the hills beyond. He did this because He knew that after seeing this miracle, the large crowd wanted to proclaim Him their king. Jesus, knowing this it was not yet time, went off by Himself.
Picking up the narrative at this point, we find the disciples have gotten into a boat without Jesus and were rowing to the other side of the lake, approximately five miles from where they left from.
The bible says that they had rowed for some time against a strong wind and were barely halfway across. The disciples are then frightened when they see someone walking toward them on the turbulent waters. I find no fault with the fear the twelve felt, for I am sure that had I been in that vessel with them, my fright meter would have been pegged as well.
Miracle number one then is Jesus walking on the water toward the boat His disciples were struggling in. Just hours before Jesus had fed 15,000 from a pitifully small basket of food, demonstrating His power over matter. Walking on water is evidence of the Lord’s mastery over nature as well.
The second miracle occurs after Jesus gets into the boat with the disciples. Jesus first assures them who He is. Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6:21 NIV). The second half of the journey across the Sea of Galilee ends in less than a wink of an eye as the boat is now safely ashore at their destination.
As I mentioned above, I find it quite easy to relate to the disciples. Even though they had now first-had experience with the power Jesus displayed, their circumstances in life still somehow diverted their attention from God to their immediate trouble. I do not have time or room to mention the countless times I have done the same.
Praise God He is patient with us all! Jesus doesn’t reprimand them for a lack of faith, He just joins them in the struggle and safely brings them to the other side.
The lesson I glean from this today to share with you, Most Precious Reader, is this: Do not get into the boat without having invited Jesus to go with you! Though I do not have any boating plans today, I will be going about many of my usual activities. Granted, most of these are fairly routine. But experience tells me that if I go off without acknowledging my need to have Jesus with me even during the mundane, surprises can upset my apple cart. Also, If I charge off on my own, I am less likely to see the ‘God moments’ that happen around me. What I might shake off as random encounters may well have been opportunities to share in some way the goodness of God. Simply taking the time to ask the Lord to be with me in my daily journey helps my spirit to stay better in tune with His. Perhaps the greatest blessing from this comes in those times when I am consciously aware of the presence of Jesus, the storms of my life do not seem to seriously rock the boat I am in.
This 2 for 1 with Jesus will never have you missing out on your size and more importantly, you will find that the bill you owe has already and eternally been paid by Him.
Many of my generation grew up reading Mad magazine. Therefore the iconic face of Alfred E. Neuman was not only easily recognized, many of us tried to play the part of being care-free about everything. Never much of an actor, I was not particularly good at hiding my worries.
Looking back, I realize that my worries were for the most part shared by my friends, we just wouldn’t show the weakness of uncertainty in front of each other. Hindsight has also revealed to me that my worries were quite similar to those of my adolescent peers: Girls, popularity, making money, getting a car, etc. Worrying about things seemed as natural as any other aspect of growing up.
I actually developed a much greater conflict over my worries once I became a Christian. I began to read the Bible and in so doing came across verses such as: Cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22) and, When I am afraid, I will trust in you (Psalm 56:3).
I had naively assumed that once I had broken with my past life of debauchery to try my best to follow Jesus and His teachings, life would become a utopia. The worries of life, many of which still kept me awake at night, were going to simply melt away as bliss dominated my existence.
As the days of being a Christian turned into months and then years, my worries still far outweighed any times of care-free life. Oh, I had learned to put the brave face on, or maybe it was the smiling face of my childhood buddy Alfred E., when asked how things were in my life. But inside, the worries of providing for my family and how to be a good husband and dad were constant companions.
Thankfully, God knows me better than I do myself and His faithfulness knows no bounds. He continued to put caring people into my life who helped me, through the instruction of example, that living life with the confidence of God’s care and protection was possible.
My wife, Betsy, took the lead in helping me. Her calm demeanor was a direct result of her practicing her faith daily. Her long-term daily reading of the Scriptures opened up her heart and mind to the goodness of the Lord, and she lived it right in front of me, as she does to this day.
Eventually, I took up the practice of daily Bible reading. God, knowing that I am often a slow learner, has taken His time with me as I spent time in His word. The passage of Scripture that continues to help me with my tendency to worry first, pray later is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).
Clearly, God wants me/us to take everything to Him in prayer, not just the needs and emergencies that tend to crop up. The instruction to not be anxious about anything is virtually impossible to perfect, but we can more than counter that by continually going to the Almighty. The direction to do this with thanksgiving also quiets my worries. When I remember to be thankful to God, much of the urgency or unmanageability of a situation lessens.
The next promise that our faithful God fulfills when we humbly come before Him expressing our needs and desires, is to guard our hearts and minds. The original Greek word translated guard carries with it a sense of shielding one from trouble. Because it is God who does the shielding, this becomes so much more than merely deflecting a problem away. In His divine providence, God will literally shield our minds from dwelling on an issue, which in turns allows us to come to the realization that He has protected us. This level of trust in our loving God helps us to not want to bury our heads in the sand hoping things will change, but rather to seek the shelter that His loving arms can provide.
As with most everything I attempt, I find keeping one of the ideas from Alcoholics Anonymous in the forefront of my mind helps: to seek progress, not perfection. I still find myself worrying over things and projecting negative outcomes that rarely come about. The progress I’ve made is that I fall into this trap far less often than I used to.
So Alfred E., like you I really do not have to worry and blessedly, being that I’m real and you are a cartoon caricature, I can keep turning to this Awesome God who daily invites me to travel through life with Him. By taking Him up on this invitation, I can know that my heart and mind are protected by Him as He gives me a peace I will never understand this side of heaven. Not to worry, everything will be revealed on the other side!
As we continue to face the challenges and changes the corona virus outbreak is having on all of us, I have also discovered a few silver linings in my daily life.
One of these is the on-going discovery of people I do not know who live in my neighborhood. As you may recall, Faithful Reader, I have worked primarily out of our home for the last 3 and a half years. On any given day, I will take two or three long walks with our Golden Doodle, Violet (my computer would not let me use any of my own pictures of her, but this photo from pinterest is strikingly close to what she looks like).
Previously, these walks have been completed almost exclusively without seeing anyone to speak to. Over these past few days, that is no longer the case! Parents prevented from going to their workplaces are outside at times they never were before. Many, like me, are on potty runs for their dogs.
The pastor in me tries to take these meetings as opportunities to share hope. Having Violet along has certainly made conversations easy to start. Almost everyone is taken by her soft coat, soulful eyes and goofy personality. As we share info on our different pooches, the talk invariably comes around to the current circumstances that have led us to meet.
I am not now, never been, and probably never will be a very successful evangelist. I don’t have the gift of gab, if you will, that allows words to smoothly and cohesively flow from my mouth. No, my strength seems to be more in the walking out of my faith. This, I have been told, is most evident in my peaceful demeanor. “You are easy to talk to,” and, “thanks for listening” are things I hear quite often.
So it is with those gifts that I engage my new-found neighbors in conversation. By asking what their ‘normal’ was before this all started, I can begin to get the sense of what is most troubling them in these days. Invariably, they will then ask me the same question to which I reply that my routine is pretty much as it was. I then offer to tell them about our home-based ministry and some of the care we bring to our community. As I do, I extend the invitation to them as well by asking if there is a specific area of concern for which I can be praying for them. I gladly tell them of the resources we have available that may be of some help.
I share this with you today as an encouragement to take the new opportunities that are presented to you through this radical shift in your day to day life. I understand the fear and uncertainty you may be experiencing, but my encouragement is that you not let them dominate your life. In the midst of being careful and making preparations for the days to come, please stay aware of the people who have now appeared on your radar. Please don’t be afraid to lend a listening ear or offer to help if appropriate.
Together, we will get through this. Just ask Violet, she has heard me encourage quite a few of this recently.
Blessings and thanks for taking the time to read this,
Though I wonder what I might be writing about on March 15th, 2021, there seems to be little else on peoples mind right now than the global spread of coronavirus/covid-19. Like many, I initially thought the talk of precautions, quarantines and physical distancing were all huge over-reactions. I watched as stores were picked clean like buzzards on a carcass and wondered what was wrong with people.
However, as I have carefully done my research on this issue, I have jumped fully on-board with the ideas and practices that will help reduce the spread of this new threat. This in turn allow our health care providers to be better able to treat those most adversely affected by it.
Having said this, please know, Faithful Reader, that I am not advocating sticking our head in the sand in hopes it all goes away quickly. Truthfully, I have no idea when things will return to the ‘normal’ I know and am comfortable in.
What I propose, and admittedly I should have been doing these things long before corona came along, is to seize every opportunity to be of help to those around us. But try as I might, there is no way I can personally help everyone that I would like to. Knowing this limitation, here is what I’m doing and I strongly encourage you to consider doing something similar: As I look out the front window of our little house, I see 3 homes across the street that are each inhabited by widows, all in excess of 70 years of age. My plan, as soon as I publish this, is to walk across the street to each of these three in order to ask if they need anything. Can I go to the store for you? Maybe I have something on hand that you need? Or maybe they will allow to simply pray with them. I’ll make sure I leave my number with them should they need me later.
You get the idea. Let’s take the opportunity circumstances have thrust upon us and literally be the hands and feet of Jesus in our own world. I will take all the appropriate precautions when doing this, for their protection, mine and anyone else I may come in contact with. But I will do it.
Please consider this for yourself. We have been given the chance to step up as a people. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity!
In September of 1969 The band Blood, Sweat and Tears released the single When I Die. (Written and first recorded by Laura Nyro). I’ve included the link here should you want to give it a listen.
Being honest, I was never a big fan of their music or this song. But like much of the music of my youth, the words of lots of songs have stayed in the recesses of my memory. People I meet or circumstances around me will often spur one or more of these tunes to the forefront. Such it is today with this particular song as I contemplate the crisis that has befallen us concerning the Corona virus/Convid-19
Though I realize I’ve written here before of my clearer understanding that I am closer to the end of my life at 60 than I am to its beginning, for the most part this remains an abstract idea to me. Yes, I know what comes to each one of us. It’s just that my Doctor says I’m in pretty good shape (for the shape I’m in) and truthfully, I’m not ready to go into the ever after just yet.
I also know that as a Christian pastor, I am to be helping folks come to their own grip with life, death and after-life. Part of that is to bear witness to the fact that I am completely assured of my forever home because of the faith I have in Jesus Christ. And I do have total trust that the Lord died to forgive sinners in order that we might have our eternal fate sealed in Him. I do try to faithfully carry this message of God’s love in all I do.
Hence, my struggle as I hear this verse play in my head again:
I’m not scared of dying
And I don’t really care
If it’s peace you find in dying,
Well, then let the time be near
With apologies to David Clayton-Thomas (lead singer of Blood Sweat and tears) and simply stated, I am scared of dying. Notice I didn’t say I was frightened of what comes after I die. What I am afraid of is facing the process of dying. My track record on handling pain and discomfort is not so good. This makes me worry that I may face my end times with less dignity than I ought.
Also, like so many, I have people in my life that are very dear to me. The thought of this pandemic bringing them suffering and death shakes me to my core. Along with this comes the dark thought of what my life would be like without them in it should this happen.
Blessedly, the assurance of the Scriptures bring more than enough comfort to deflate the fears I have. I share some of these now in case you are experiencing any fear because of this current crisis.
Psalm 23:4 reminds us: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. I let that sink in again today: the God of the Universe is with me! Certainly circumstances are uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worse, but God is with us no matter what!
Jesus reminds us that we will face trouble in this life: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV). The Savior Jesus Christ, the embodiment of all truth, tells us we will have trouble in this life. But more importantly, He also assures us that He has overcome any and all things that want to prevail against us. Though personally I would have preferred Jesus to tell us we would have no troubles at all in this life, I realize how quickly I would forget all about Him if I never struggled with things. The emphasis needs to be seen in that Jesus has overcome! I find great peace in that today, no matter the chaos going on around me.
There are countless other Scriptures to help us in our most trying times. Please feel free to reach out to me should you like to see more of them.
So there you have it, Faithful Reader, a look into some of the stuff that bounces around inside this head of mine. I welcome your insights, thoughts or questions.
As always, my deepest appreciation for taking the time to read this,
Oh, what choices we sometimes make! I’m sure you know what I mean: the perfect car, the new job and neither one living up to the expectations you had for them. We usually have clear 20/20 vision after the fact with choices like these because our mistake is often quickly evident.
But what about things that don’t reveal themselves so fast. Perhaps a four-year course of study that ends up fruitless in the job market. Maybe it’s that person you dated for years who you hoped would change but never did; or worse yet you made a commitment to and they did morph into a person you couldn’t stand. Painful things indeed.
I got to thinking about these things as I re-read of God’s mighty freeing of the Hebrews from Egypt. After 400 years of hard bondage, God called Moses to lead the people out and into the Promised Land. Those who know much more than I do about these things estimate that the total number of men, women and children God freed was close to 1 million.
That number is what has struck me this time. I have no idea how long a procession of 1 million people is; but it has to stretch for miles. As flabbergasting as this figure is to me, it only strengthens my belief in God’s miracle-working power. As Scripture proclaims: Nothing is too hard for God!
If you are familiar with the Exodus account, you know that this great horde of folks wandered for nearly 40 years in the desert before entrance to the promised Land happened. Hence the title of this offering: Two in a Million, because only 2 of that original 1 million would ever step foot into the ‘land flowing with milk and honey.’ But it didn’t have to be! Less than two years into their journey, the new nation was at the doorstep of their destination.
The Bible tells that Moses commanded 12 spies to go into the land they were to take possession of. Their mission was to scope out fortifications, numbers of troops and what the land produced for food. Two of those assigned were named Joshua and Caleb. These fellows were to be the 2 in a Million.
Here’s why: When the 12 spies finished their assignment they came back to report what they had seen. The land was indeed rich and wonderful. However, 10 of them reported that the defenses in place and the monstrous size of the inhabitants would make it impossible to conquer. Joshua and Caleb agreed that the challenge ahead was great, but that God was greater! These two trusted God to be faithful to his promise and advised Moses and the people that they should march in believing in God’s power to do what He had said He would.
Unfortunately, the opinion of the other 10 spies was what the people heeded. They were fearful because of the report given. They chose to believe the opposition was too great and that they would surely die if they tried to overtake them.
Talk about your bad decisions! God then said that because of the people’s lack of faith none of them, except Joshua and Caleb, would ever set foot in the land He promised. It took about 38 years to come to fruition because that’s how long it took for that entire group to die off.
The decision to not trust God not only cost the 999,998 (approximately) the opportunity to enter that rich land, they had to wander about in the elements all that time, basically waiting to die.
I share these thoughts without any judgment on those poor souls. To be honest, if I was with them then, I most likely would have gone along with the vast majority; too insecure and scared to take the leap of faith.
The lesson I’m learning these days is to put my professed faith in the Lord in the forefront of my heart and mind. As I do this, it allows me to more fully grasp the depth of God’s love and faithfulness. As I read and ponder the Scriptures, the more clearly the Almighty’s direction becomes. I simply need to seek Him first and always and then follow His prompting.
Joshua and Caleb are heroes I look up to. Might they be an encouragement to all of us to more fully trust God. I still don’t know if I would be that one or two in a million; but what I do know is this: there is no numerical amount to quantify or qualify our God. He is everything He says He is. He has proved it, is proving it and always will!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. May it be a blessing to you.