13/08/2016 - Exodus 14:24 'Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to.'
Imagine trudging through the desert knowing that you could be living it up in the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’. Your name is Caleb and you are one of the spies sent in to search out Canaan because God had promised it your people. It really was a promise. God said he would do it and although there were giants and all sorts of obstacles, you knew that God was bigger than them all. Joshua agreed with you.
The problem was that the people were in such a horribly negative frame of mind. They had been like that more or less since God had delivered them miraculously from Egypt. They talked of going back to Egypt and choosing another leader to take them there. The other ten spies, who were all leaders of their clans and who should have known better, were part of it. When Joshua and Caleb stood up and said that God was to be trusted and would lead them into the land, the people talked of stoning them.
God was not pleased. ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt?’ he wanted to know. Enough was enough and the nation had to leave the borders of this wonderful land and return to the desert – for forty years. By then all those adults 20 years old and over would have died in the desert – except Caleb and Joshua.
So there you are, walking with the walking dead, consigned to living for forty years amongst this negative bunch and paying a heavy price for something you had no part in. How would you feel about that? Not easy.
Imagine that first night. You have come tantalisingly close to a land full of plenty and to the challenge of seeing God at work - and now you have to adjust your thinking and your attitude because of a foolish choice by someone else. Have you ever found yourself in that position? Perhaps you repeatedly warned that person or people about the folly of their choice - but they still went ahead and did it. Where do you start?
It is essential to know that you are only answerable to God for your life. Of course we all have responsibilities, some of which have an influence on others, but at the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own choices. Joshua and Caleb knew that they were there to represent God amongst these rebellious people. And there were the under 20s who would be looking for leadership, example and wisdom. Joshua and Caleb had to serve God where he put them, whatever their circumstances. They had to do so with the right attitude and with love in their hearts.
Do you find yourself in that position today? Living in the consequences of someone else’s folly? Perhaps your life was shaped by poor decisions that others made on your behalf in your childhood? You can complain; you can struggle with the unfairness of it all; you can spend many hours going through it all in your head but at the end of the day the faith that led you to believe that God could give you victory in the land of plenty will be strong enough to take you through that desert place. It is one thing to have faith for the positive challenges ahead of you and it is another to live day by day under the pressure of things being far from what they should be. God will give grace for both.