For many years, I was scared to go to the beach on the gulf side of Florida. When I was younger, my cousins had traveled there and told me that there were sting rays everywhere! I pictured the water to be brown, not because of pollution, but because of sting rays. Swimming did not sound like a pleasant experience, so I was resolved that going to the beach there would not be much fun. I carried this perception with me for a very long time. Last February, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Florida. We couldn’t wait to feel the warmth on our skin and sit in the sunshine. When we arrived on the shores of the gulf, I was still a bit nervous about what we would find in the water.
In Numbers 13-14, we find the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt on route to the Promise Land. At this moment, they have reached the edge of the promised land, and God says, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders” (Numbers 13:2). Moses obeys and sends out the men.
When the men returned, they reported to Moses. The men confirmed that the land was fruitful as God had promised. However, their story quickly turned to tell of the obstacles that they found there. There were very large, fortified cities and powerful nations in the land. The men said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:31). Only two spies, Caleb and Joshua, believed that the Lord would make them successful in possessing the land that he had promised to them.
The other men left the company of Moses and immediately began to spread a negative report among the Israelite camp. They shared nothing favorable, but only the threat that they believed was looming against them.
Does that sound familiar? We are often only told part of the story. We hear the pieces that elicit the greatest emotion or the parts that would cause us to side with the reporter. Rarely do we hear the whole story.
The negative report sent the Israelite camp into disarray. The people were convinced of their doom. Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua attempted to tell them the good things about the land and remind them of God’s power to bring victory, but the people would not have it. Fear had been planted, and the people were about to reap what they had sown.
Numbers 14:23 says, “not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.”
Acting on fear keeps us from good things. Fear is a lie from the enemy meant to keep us from something good God has for us. When we recognize fear’s voice, we need to remember that if we just push through the fear, we’ll find God’s peace and promise on the other side. In hindsight, we can learn from the Israelites’ mistakes. This one thing is for certain – we will never see the promise land if we will not agree to go into it.
As we approached the beach that warm February day, I got my first glimpse of the beautiful blue waters. When we got to the water’s edge, there were no sting rays in sight. I realized that I had made a big mistake by allowing myself to be afraid of the gulf shore. Maybe there was some truth to my cousins’ experience at the gulf, but I’m thinking that I was missing part of the story. I’m just thankful that when I had the opportunity to see the shore for myself, I didn’t let fear keep me back from the beauty that dwells there.
Only two of the spies who explored the land would ever have the privilege to live in it. The other ten spies were struck down by God for their disbelief and daunting testimony. We have a responsibility to give truthful testimony and have faith in God. We also have a responsibility to seek truth for ourselves rather than believing all that we hear. When we do these things, we will assuredly possess the promise land.
About the Author:
Emily is a speaker, writer, and teacher. She works in the office for Women of Purpose. At her church, she serves alongside her husband in the Young Adults Ministry, and she also serves on the Women’s Ministry Team. Emily is also the founder of Full Light Ministries, a ministry to women, especially for the purpose of praying for babies and pregnant moms. See more content from Emily on her website: www.fulllightministries.com.