The people did what people mostly do. They allowed the voice of fear to drown out the voice of potential and it cost them dearly. That day, God turned them back from the border of promise. He sent them out into the wilderness again where he promptly vowed that not one of their generation would see the land flowing with milk and honey. Fear would not be woven into the DNA of his chosen people, not if God had anything to do with it. <!–split–>
So the people got in the wilderness what they were most afraid of getting in the Promised Land. They were destroyed by their own choice. For 38 years they wandered like dead men walking before another generation found itself toe-to-toe with God’s purposes.
I wonder if most of that first generation even knew how close they were to greatness? I wonder if, way down the road, some of them sat around campfires and wondered aloud, “What do you suppose would have become of us if we had listened to Joshua and Caleb? How do you suppose it would have turned out?” Did they even stop to think about it as they poked their fires or packed up their tents yet again or held their cups beneath water flowing from rocks?
Did they think that deeply? Did they assume, like most people, that what they had twenty or thirty years out from that decision was all there was? Did they ever stop to imagine more than mediocrity punctuated by death? Or did they simply go about their lives, making grocery lists, making beds, making a living, making do?
I wonder, but I can’t judge. After all, I am an Israelite myself. I peek over into spiritual promises and my little internal band of spies reports back, “That’ll never work for you,” and far too often I listen to those voices of fear or laziness or institutional caution and I miss out.
Who knows how long I’ve wandered, unaware of the promises I’ve turned down, while God in his mercy determines to kill of all in me that reeks of fear?
Who knows how long our denomination as a whole will wander, while God in his mercy determines to kill off all in us that reeks of fear? What if, even now, we are wandering in a desert of our own making, unable to image more than mediocrity punctuated by death? Friends, fear is a killer. It kills spirits and can even thwart great moves of God. I hope we are not hanging on to an institution simply because we are afraid of stepping into God’s vision for us.
Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly? Not half-heartedly. Not with your spare change and spare time. Not only as far as your comforts will take you. Not fearfully, but wholly to God and God’s work? In your study and worship and fellowship and serving and in the truth you share, be passionately committed to the pursuit of wholeness so you can be in passionate pursuit of the presence of Christ. Without that kind of vulnerable, wholehearted faith it is impossible to please God.