Good morning everyone. Technically, this is Day 14. Yesterday, I spent the day with friends swimming and then, had to “move into” the home where I will be house-sitting for the next few weeks; so, it was a full day. As I sat in the living room of said house this morning, listening to birds, thinking about this devotional, I realized that if I don’t start getting up in the morning and taking care of this, I will continue to let a day or two slip away, until – before I know it or realize it – I will be so far behind, I’ll just have to scrap it or start over. So…without further delay:
READ: The passage, today, takes us to Numbers 14:1-24. The passage includes a prayer by Moses, asking forgiveness for the Israelites (once again). The party of 12 had just went to scout out the Promised Land and ten of the returning men decided that the giants in the land were too big and that there was no way they could move in and take it from them. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, said that God would give the land over to them and that they should be obedient. God did forgive the Israelites, but still, a whole generation had to pass away before He would allow them to enter into the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb would lead them in, but not before Moses himself passed away. Take a look at verse 24:
“But my servant Caleb–this is a different story. He has a different spirit; he follows me passionately. I’ll bring him into the land that he scouted and his children will inherit it.”
This is what God said about Caleb. How I would love it if God could say that about me and my family!
THINK: Could you imagine, knowing that God thought as highly of you as He thought of Caleb?
In this section, we are asked: (1) What impresses you most about God? Why? And (2) What impresses you most about Caleb? Why? What impresses me most about God is the way he speaks about Caleb. He is confident that Caleb will be able to move into the land and take it over the way God has commanded them to. I would love knowing that God could be that confident in me. What impresses me most about Caleb is that he trusted God. There were giants in the land but God said He would deliver the land into their hands, so all they had to do was be obedient, go in, and take it. None of their victories ever came without a fight, but God went before them every time and there was not an enemy the Israelites encountered that they did not overcome when they handled things the way God told them to. Caleb and Joshua saw the lay of the land. No doubt they saw exactly the same thing the other 10 members of the party saw, but they knew their God was faithful and would do for them what he had done for them all along.
PRAY: Ask God to show you where you fit in this passage. How might you be tempted to “[turn] a deaf ear”? How might God be calling you to live a different story–to be one who has “a different spirit” from others, who follows God passionately even though it might involve risks (for example, loving the unlovely, pursuing a career that makes less money, admitting to others the mistakes you’ve made)?
LIVE: Imagine what it would feel like to have such trust in God that you would be willing to take whatever next steps God presents to you. Imagine what it would be like to be so different from others that you might be excluded because of it.
There are easy routes and there are hard routes. I’ve taken both in my life time. When I’ve taken the easy route, I’ve come out pretty, unscathed, paint unscratched, looking none the worse for wear. But, I was untested and, most definitely, unprepared for any future fight. Also, I was not inclined to go looking for the next test either. The times when I have been most gratified is when I did the hard thing and came out on the other side of it. Maybe a little battered or bruised, with a few dings and scratches. Maybe even by the skin of my teeth. But I made it. And I was stronger because of it. And more prepared for the next battle. Not just that, but I was almost looking for the next thing I could tackle.
Over the course of the last few years, I have found myself wanting to take a few steps back from the fight. I’ve felt like I’ve had so many battles on so many fronts that I’ve wanted to dial back on one of them in particular. My schooling takes so much time and energy that I’ve found myself saying: “I’ve got 7 years to complete it. I could take some time off and go do something else for a while. The only person saying that I need to keep pushing through is me.” Yet, every time I’ve said that or felt that, I’ve gotten this feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me to just keep going. I even had those thoughts when I was in Lynchburg for my counseling classes. There were people all around me who had taken a much less intense route than I had and I found myself wondering why in the world I hadn’t done a little more research to find an easier route. Or at least a shorter one. Why did I have to be in a program that was requiring so much of me, and at a time in my life when things seemed to be falling apart everywhere else? What was I thinking?
The truth is: I wasn’t “thinking” when I took this route. It kinda fell into my lap and it just felt “right”. I didn’t question whether or not it was the right thing to do because everything I was learning was meeting me right where I was and kept propelling me forward. Even when I was in Lynchburg and people asking me why I chose the Marriage and Family Therapy route instead of the Licensed Professional Counselor route, which is a shorter program, it never occurred to me that I had chosen the wrong route, but it did get me to thinking: “You mean, I could’ve been done by now? Why did I choose this?” I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t choose this. It must’ve been chosen for me. Why? Well, because, had I known what I was getting myself into, I would not have chosen this. And with our current situation, I could’ve dropped this at any time and just went to work at Wal-Mart. Or Starbucks. But faith propelled me to keep going. I just had this sense that there was something better waiting on the other side, so I had to keep going. Even now, when things get tough and I just want to run back home and go live a simple life in the country, I feel like I would be running away from my life. Only instead of the Israelites who just WANTED to run back to Egypt, I would actually be doing it.
Come to think of it, when I do stop and “think” about what I’m doing, none of it makes any sense. Who on earth would take a backseat on the running of their lives? Why would you entrust your life to God when He seems to have dropped you on your head? Why wouldn’t I just take control of my life back?
I don’t know what my next steps will look like; God has those hidden from me, right now. And I am well aware of why. If I knew what He was going to require of me next – if any of us did – we would turn tail and run for the hills because of what it would entail, and how much he wants to stretch us out of our comfort zone. And, honestly, I don’t want to try to imagine what it would be like to be so different from others that I might be excluded. I would rather just cross that bridge when I come to it. One thing I have discovered to be true for my life, however, is that even when I am being excluded by some (hurtful though it may be), I am being included by others. I have never been truly alone regardless of how pressing my circumstances were. Even when I have been smack in the middle of a set of choices that has made some people roll their eyes or shake their heads, I have never been alone!
I don’t know what God is calling me to, but I know that – based on my current set of circumstances and how much it is stretching me and prodding me to go deeper in my walk with the Lord – whatever is next is going to be something that requires the faith and strength I have earned on this leg of my journey. And I know that for every scar I have gotten while on this walk, I have earned a story that I will be able to share with others who are in the midst of making their own scars, or who have already had their fair share of scars and who will be there to remind me that those scars were not, and are not EVER wasted.
So…at the beginning I asked the question: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” I’ve heard that many times and every time, up until now, I’ve been left thinking: but I can fail. Well, the truth of the matter is: if nothing is wasted, then I haven’t failed. So long as I keep going and keep trying, I haven’t failed. So long as I trust that God will deliver into my hands the victory He has promised, I can’t fail because the results are not actually up to me. All he needs is my obedience and for me to trust Him when he says that the outcome is in His hands.