Pursuing the Promise

15 03 2010

Well, I have to start this post off with a confession. See, I don’t really enjoy the subject of geography. Some people love it, but for me – not so much. I can still get lost in Columbus and I’ve lived in the area for over 30 years.  I’m the person who has to hold the map upside down if we’re traveling south to be able to figure out whether to turn left or right, so talking about areas of the world that don’t even exist anymore is a big stretch for my brain.    All that to say that I was just kind of zipping through the past few chapters in Joshua (if you’ve gotten a little off-track we’re reading Joshua 12 – 14 today). It’s a lot of “north of …” and “southward below the slopes of…”  and in the interest of complete honesty, I was sort of hearing that noise that Charlie Brown hears whenever adults talk – you know, the “whhaa, whhaa, whhaa…”  but then the Holy Spirit reached out in chapter 14 and grabbed me.  Don’t you love having His Word written down, so you can just back up and re-read when you realize that you missed something?

In verse 6 of chapter 14 we get the detail on Caleb’s portion of the inheritance of Canaan.   Caleb comes to meet with Joshua and reminisces about the time when Moses sent them out with 10 other spies to scout out the land of Canaan and report back.  I’m sure you remember the story – the other 10 spies said that the enemy was too big and they couldn’t possibly defeat them, but Caleb and Joshua were adamant that God would give them the land if they would just go and take it.  The people’s fear won out, resulting in 40 years of wilderness wanderings.  But, Caleb has never forgotten God’s promise that because he had a “different spirit” (Num. 14:24) he would enter Canaan and it would be his inheritance.  And his attitude is what challenged me.  I love verses 10 and 11; “As you see, the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years as He promised, since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel was journeying in the wilderness. Here I am today, 85 years old.  I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out.  My strength for battle and for daily tasks is now as it was then.” 45 years!  Not hours, not days, not weeks or even months – 45 years.  And is he crying the blues?  “Finally, finally, I’ve lasted long enough – I’m old and feeble now, but I’ve managed to hang on by my fingernails…”  No, he is still as eager and expectant as on the day God made him the promise.  And I love that he draws the distinction between having the strength for battle and for daily tasks.  It’s pretty easy to get excited and energized for a big battle – lots of noise and drama, but the day-in and day-out tasks of doing God’s work, the repetition of the same chores, the same conversations, the same people, the same problems, with no clear endpoint in sight, I can find myself feeling wearied and weakened by those.  But what an encouragement Caleb is – “I am still as strong today as I was 45 years ago.” No doubt, no fear, no fatigue.  Too often what we see as God’s delay in fulfilling His promises causes us to begin to doubt whether or not we will ever see it happen, we fear that perhaps we misunderstood Him, we feel that we won’t have the strength to continue running the race.

So how do we avoid discouragement, how can we, how can I, be as certain as certain 5 years, 10 years, 40 years from now of the fulfillment of God’s promises as Caleb was?  Well, we make a choice to either count up or count down.  Jylian and Jocelynn, two of my daughters have been given the opportunity to play their cello and string bass with Hayes Orchestra at Carnegie Hall at the end of this month.   It’s a rare privilege that was promised to them at the beginning of this year.  They haven’t gotten more and more discouraged at each passing day, bemoaning the fact that “it hasn’t happened yet” or worrying that maybe it won’t actually happen.  The passage of time has had quite the opposite effect on their attitude, they have gotten more excited, they are practicing with greater diligence, their planning has gotten more detailed and specific – they understand that each day brings the fulfillment of the promise closer.  The passage of time increases their excitement and gives them more energy for pursuing the promise of Carnegie.   They are counting down.  I wonder why we are so inclined to count up when it comes to pursuing God’s promises rather than count down?  Why do we so rarely think “Yay, I’m one day closer to seeing my family saved!” or, “I’m one day closer to realizing God’s healing in my body!”  0r, “We’re one day closer to seeing God’s provision for His Church!” ?

Would our attitude be more like Caleb’s if we stopped letting time control our perspective on God’s promises and let God’s promises control our perspective on time?   I’m underlining Joshua 14:11 and I’ve decided that I’m counting down.  His promises will be fulfilled and I’m closer to seeing that happen today than I was yesterday.



One response

17 05 2010



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