12 Spies go into Canaan. Their mission: to see what the land that was promised to them looks like. When they return they report back: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But…” and they start telling of the big and powerful men who live in this land. Joshua and Caleb, however, try to convince the people that they can do this: “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” I mean, they just defeated the Egyptians without even going to war. With God on their side, everything is possible…

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Fear. You did not see what we saw. We know something you don’t.

Truth, with a bit of exaggeration. The people are of great size – all of them!

Assumptions. We felt small it so it must be that they thought we were as small as grasshoppers.

So, they convince a whole people to rather turn around and for 40 years the Israelites wandered the desert. They all died there – except for Joshua and Caleb.

Reading this story again, something struck me about where we find ourselves at this moment. Fear, truth, with a bit of exaggeration, and assumptions. Maybe decisions made without consulting God. Feeling powerless against the wave of people who want to run, to hide, to rather live in the desert. Frustration with leadership – who they listen to. Frustration with people who believe everything they hear. Anger at how it influences my life.

Imagine how Joshua must have felt. For 40 years he had to suffer for something that he did not choose. He had to travel with, hear them complain, see them die… if only they were brave enough to go with him when they had a chance. It took 40 years before he finally got to step over the Jordan and take possession of a land that he knew was meant to be his, theirs, God’s.

What I do know is that he did not sit in his tent for the 40 years, telling the people how stupid they were, how they deserved this, how he knew better. We read that he willingly walked next to Moses, served him diligently and learned from him.

The Israelites wasted 40 years, when they could have had overflowing milk and honey instead, wandering the desert, hungry, thirsty and not rooted. But Joshua chose to not let the 40 years be a waste for him. He kept dreaming, believing and growing. So that when the time was right again, he could be trusted and he still had the faith of the boy who went spying years ago.

In this season, when we might feel like other people’s disobedience, unbelief, lack of faith and knowledge, is causing us to be desert wanderers, when it feels like because of them we are loosing out on promises, on success, on security, on growth, on something bigger and better, may we choose to not sit and die. We might be going hungry figuratively or literally. We might feel like all we do is walk in circles. Those around us might constantly be grumbling.

May we choose to come out on the other side of this year, it could have been worse, it could be 40 years, still believing that there is a promised land, still willing to cross the Jordan, still having faith that God is good and wants the best for us. May we become better leaders, stronger people, wiser, more gracious, more compassionate, more determined.

Do not fear – God is still in control.

Look for The Truth, not just any truth.

In it all focus on the good, the beauty, the things we can be thankful for.

Neeltjie Burmeister

This article was reproduced with the permission of Neeltjie. She is wife to one husband, mother of 3 girls, friend to a few great women, daughter, sister, and when time allows a professional photographer. Above all a follower of Jesus. She is strong believer in the power of a cup of well brewed Earl Grey Tea and has a passion to see women realise their potential, take up their roles as women, wives and mothers and acknowledge the calling on their lives.

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