The recent talk series at our church has taken my thoughts back to the book of Numbers with the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and the land of Canaan promised to them. I find myself in awe as the story unfolds in Chapter 13 when Moses, as directed by the Lord, sent twelve men to spy on the land of Canaan. These were not just ordinary men, nor were they chosen at random but each a leader representing the twelve ancestral tribes of Israel. The men went out to see what the land was like as instructed by Moses and were gone for 40 days. Upon their return they stood before Moses, Aaron and the whole community to report what they saw and the fruit the land bore. They did testify to the truth that it was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, bountiful and bore much fruit…….BUT the people were too powerful, their towns large and fortified and there were giants in the midst.
Ten of the of the twelve leaders perception of the seen before them stepped away from the reality of the promise given. They even gave reality to their perceived notions of the people saying,
“The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants[b]there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
You would have thought that at this point the Israelites should have trusted the Lord. He did send plagues upon the Egyptians for Moses to lead them out of Egypt. He parted the Red Sea and drowned all Pharaoh’s men who were after leading them to safety. He sent them manna from heaven and quail from the sky to feed them. They traveled in safety by a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud during the day. Their focus not on the One who brought them thus far but instead the giants before them. This is where the story becomes so profound for me. We as a people, have not deviated much from this scenario: they had literal giants to contend with we contend with perceived giants but the reality at hand in both cases is our lack to see the Father’s heart for us.
I know that I have steered away from growth whether it be in a physical sense or spiritual sense because there might be giants or the work ahead seems too difficult. How many times has an event unfolded before me and without the knowledge of the truth behind it formulate an opinion contradictory to the reality of the situation at hand? I, have let my perception, doubt and fear drive me the opposite way because I can’t believe/trust the direction in which the Lord is leading. Surely not that Lord?! Why would you ever ask this of me? And like that, I become an Israelite wandering in the desert destined to return to captivity because what is seemingly ahead is too difficult and unfamiliar. I would rather retreat to what I have known to be true than trust the Lord and His truth and promise for me. I’m learning my perception is not always reality.
What intrigues me the most about this story is the leadership. Each man a representation of the tribe of Judah and only two, Joshua and Caleb, believed in what the Lord said was true! What made them so different? I think they remembered His faithful and gracious hand and believed in what He said was true. They saw how God delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh, cared for, protected them . They grasped the Father’s heart for His people out of the other ten men. They knew it’s not about how big and powerful they were but how BIG and POWERFUL the LORD had been in their lives! Not to mention FAITHFUL! And they trusted what the Lord said He would do!
This is where my heart cuts like a knife, how many times has the Lord delivered me, showed me His love and provision and yet I did not grasp His heart for me? Has he not broken down the walls of my heart to lies I believed? Has He not rescued me many times from the messes I’ve created on my own? Has he not been faithful? And yet, why do I question His leading? Why do I stumble on the mere perception of a giant in my midst? Maybe it’s due to putting more weight on what I can do on my own than being dependent upon what the Father has done for me.
There are always going to be giants whether perceived or real but the Lord is all-powerful and brings them down. He allows us entrance to the next level of revelation of who He is what He has promised. We can turn and run in fear or we can trust, obey and believe. He is bigger than the physical or spiritual giants before us but He is only as big as we believe Him to be.