Surveying What’s Ahead

Writing over at The Glorious Table today about surveying the year ahead. Click here to link to the full article or read on for a preview below. Happy New Year to you all!

When COVID all but shifted the world on its axis early in 2020, it was incredibly jarring. The shutdown was so quick and life-altering that it took us all a moment to get our bearings. If I’m truthful, what got me through those first few months was Jesus—and a lot of adrenaline. “We can do this!” I said. “A few months of weirdness and then back to normal!” I was more than a smidgen wrong.

I wish I could have understood what was coming. I wish I’d had some premonition that this experience was not a momentary pause, but rather, a lengthy adjustment to life as we know it. But I recognize that even if I been given a glimpse of what was coming, I would still have had to make a choice. A choice about how to proceed. A choice about who or what I was going to put my faith in. I know this because, way back when, God did that for a group of people. He gave the Israelites in the desert a “glimpse ahead” at the life and land they could inherit. Their responses have a lot to teach us about how we might respond given a similar opportunity.

Here’s what happened:

Let’s go all the way back to Numbers 13. The Israelites had been wandering around in the desert and were now poised on the edge of the promised land. But before they proceeded, God asked Moses to send twelve spies to survey the land. Of course, God knew what was there. And the people knew God had promised to give this land to them and be there with them. Yet he still had them go through the process of surveying it. He knew there was value in the exercise—value for their faith.

Off they went. Those twelve spies from the twelve tribes spent forty days observing the people, resources, and attributes of the promised land. They checked their defenses, investigated whether the soil was fertile, observed if the land had trees, and took a bunch of grapes back as evidence of the plentiful nature of the land (Numbers 13:17-25 NIV). Upon their return, this was the report: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:27-28 NIV) .They saw a mixed bag of good and bad. That sure sounds like life, doesn’t it? Okay, back to the scene.

Ten of the spies responded this way: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:31-33 NIV)

But then two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, responded this way: “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30 NIV) “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:7-9 NIV)

What a difference.

To read the application for us as enter 2021, see full post here.

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