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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fear Vs. Faith

I started reading a really neat book this morning, "How to Relate to Impossible People," by Dick Purnell, and it's one of those 31-day experiment books that is combination Bible study and journal type of book. Each day it has a passage that you read, 3 questions about the reading, a place to write your need for the day, a suggestion for putting what you've read into action, and a closing thought with some additional verses. The half-page sized book has two pages for each day, so it's quick and easy, yet quite thought-provoking. I would like to go through it pretty regularly, and have decided I will blog about what I'm learning in order to solidify it in my mind. I will be using the NIV, with comparison with the NASB.

Numbers 13:26 - 14:9

It's the classic story of the twelve spies who went over to Canaan to see the lay of the land. When they returned, everyone got together to hear their report. They started out by saying that Canaan was a pretty neat place, with an abundance of good things, and they even brought back some fruit for everyone to see. Unfortunately, ten out of the twelve said that even though it was a good land, it was overshadowed by the giants who were everywhere. Those ten began to spread discontentment among the Israelites by saying that it wasn't possible to conquer the giants.

Well it didn't take long before the crowd started to mumble and complain, as we are all to wont to do when faced with challenges. They got angry and said that death in the wilderness or even in Egypt would have been preferable to the unknown they now faced. (People who are depressed can also reach a point where they would prefer death to trusting God for the unknown.) The Israelites preferred to return to known slavery than to step out in faith and face the giants.

Amidst the angry crowds' voices, Joshua and Caleb spoke up and commandeered their attention. They said, "The land is good, we should have faith and follow God, and He will give it to us." I think perhaps Joshua and Caleb remembered how God had been leading them, the miracles He had performed, and how He had helped them defeat their enemies so far. These brave men were in Canaan, they saw the giants, but they saw them in the perspective of, "God will give us victory; He is leading." They recognized the challenges, but they put them in their place by recognizing that those challenges were God's responsibility.

An interesting sidenote is that the NASB says in Numbers 14:9 that the people of the land, the giants and those were not following God, had lost their protection. The literal word for protection, however, is "shadow." I thought that was interesting because it reminds me of when the Egyptians came after the Israelites and were about to capture them at the Red Sea but then God's cloud came between them, a shadow of protection. It also reminds of me how God led them, again as a shadow over them during the day.

What am I taking away from this? I want to be like Joshua and Caleb and learn to trust God and have faith in Him instead of allowing my fears to dominate my life. Being a single woman, life has its own unique challenges and I often get terrified of living alone in this world. The internet and TV have scores of horror stories of horrible things that happen to people and it's easy to get caught up in the fear that that could happen to me. It's also easy to worry about where I should live and work and how to figure it all out. I want to take ahold of faith, recognize that God is leading, stop worrying about my future, and go forward and let Him fight my battles.

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