I’ve been thinking about Joshua and Caleb this week. Specifically, I’ve been reminded by the Holy Spirit that although an obstacle may loom larger than life, an obstacle does not tower over God. Joshua and Caleb had the mind of a conqueror because they both believed nothing was greater than God. Moses sent twelve men to the land of promise, each was assigned to analyze, assess, and evaluate the level of effort needed to take possession of land promised to the nation of Israel by God. Twelve of those men came back and reported that the land offered the things to which God had spoken of, a land that:
“…certainly does flow with milk and honey”1
But ten of those men also said:
“…the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”2
This is an example of how obstacles appear larger that they really are. Our eyes will cause us to exaggerate and believe things we see, even when the truth echoes before us. Caleb (one of the twelve) responded by saying,
“We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”3
Why after all the things God had done for these people did ten of these men reach a place of doubt, worry, anxiety and fear?
I think that these ten men looked not to God, but measured themselves against the people who inhabited the Promised Land. In Egypt, these men were slaves. They had a slave mentality. Even though God delivered them from their Egyptian oppressors, parted the Red Sea, fed them bread from heaven, provided them with meat and water, led them with pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, they still considered themselves as slaves. It’s the reason I believe they kept making references to how good they had it in Egypt; making bricks!
I believe that we embrace our past because we fear the future; even if that past was the worst possible experience we’ve ever had. Why does a person stay in a dead-end job? What keeps a co-dependent dependent? What makes a person see the worst possible thing in their life as something to hold on to? Why does a person find it so easy to say, “I’m a failure” rather than saying, “I’ll face this challenge by trusting God for my success”?
How often do the words, “I can’t”, “I’ll never”, “It’s hopeless”, and “What’s the use” come from your mouth?
Have you ever found yourself singing or (those who don’t sing) humming a tune in your head that somehow doesn’t want to go away? Sometimes, it’s just a catchy phrase such as, “You’ve got mail”, “Not going anywhere”, “What’s in your wallet?” or “Bags fly free”. We hear it and then subconsciously it begins to loop in our mind, constantly repeating; again and again.
The same thing appears to happen when I repeat messages that somehow reinforce that I’m incapable of achieving anything. Instead of saying these words repeatedly, I must choose to say something that gives me faith, joy, contentment and hope. I’m not talking about a commercial where I claim to have the knowledge of a skilled surgeon just because I slept in a certain hotel. No, just saying, “I’m a surgeon” one hundred times, doesn’t make me one. But why are the words, “I'll never...”, so believable to me? What if I began to remind myself of who I am, who I belong to, and who is on my side?
I am a follower of Christ. I confess my faith and trust in Him daily, and yet, something happens when I’m faced with A Problem. I transform it into My Problem, volunteering myself for this duty. I do this even though the words, “the battle is the Lord’s”4 are in my spirit, I act as if I’m all alone. Worry, doubt, anxiety and fear are all consuming. Like a wildfire, worry, doubt, anxiety and fear consume me until I’m a living example of worry, doubt, anxiety and fear. I sacrificially offer myself in an effort to appease it, but after being consumed, all that’s left is a discouraged shell of someone who feels helpless and hopeless.
I realize now why the scripture says,
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.”5
I believe this means to throw worry, doubt, anxiety and fear off myself and direct them toward God. What’s the first thing you do when you enter your home? You remove a coat, jacket or sweater; tossing it to a familiar place. Perhaps it’s those shoes you’ve worn all day. Maybe it’s a hat or scarf you remove. You’ve done it so many times, that it becomes a subconscious act. Whatever it is, you don’t continue to wear it because you recognize it’s unnecessary; you’re home, a place of comfort and security. I believe God wants me to have that attitude about Him; He’s my shelter, my spiritual home of comfort and security. It is here that I must remove (cast off) all my cares (worry, doubt, anxiety and fear), and direct them to God.
Why? God cares about me, totally and completely.
So only two of the twelve men (Joshua and Caleb) recognized that the physical appearance of those who lived in the Promised Land didn’t mean defeat, they dared to say,
“…and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, 'The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us--a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.' ”6
They understood that the LORD was with them. The LORD would empower them to achieve victory. They understood that when you look at an obstacle with the natural eye, defeat appears imminent, but when I look through the eyes of Christ, that obstacle becomes a stepping stone to victory. Stop carrying around your cares (worry, doubt, anxiety and fear); have the mind of a conqueror, a spiritual conqueror.
Cast them, throw them off; give them to the LORD.
Remember, your obstacle has no protection from God.
Remind yourself that, the LORD is with you.
Do not be afraid of what opposition you face.
Do you want to be a spiritual conqueror?
Stop saying what you can’t do and begin reminding yourself what God can do!
Believe and trust God…Be all you can be in Christ…be a conqueror!
“...’we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”7
You give us Your grace in abundance. In all things we are more than conquerors through Christ. I am confident in You. I acknowledge that the obstacles I face have no protection from You, You are with me, I will not fear what is before me. The realization that You are God and there is none like You gives me both joy and peace. Bless our faith so that we may bless and encourage others, pointing them to You. We can do nothing without You LORD. I bless and exalt Your Name, which is above every name. I thank You for the joy and peace the Holy Spirit gives me. It is written that, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed." Your grace abounds in us O LORD. Thank You. Amen.
- Numbers 13:27, NIV
- Numbers 13:28-29, NIV
- Numbers 13:30, NIV
- 1 Samuel 17:47,NASB
- 1 Peter 5:7-8, NIV
- Numbers 14:7-9, NIV
- Romans 8:36-39, NIV
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6