Lately God has been guiding me back through some of the old testament in my studies showing me profiles of different men and groups in the books of the old testament and pictures of how they either followed God completely (and the successes they had because of it), or how they doubted God and did their own thing (and either the failures or delayed success because of it). Isn't is interesting how you can go back and re-read the same story you've read a thousand times growing up, but God has something new for you every time?! We've talked about it in our life group that we lead and I brought up how it confused me sometimes that Jesus would "Blind their eyes to the truth" in the scriptures to keep them from seeing (like after he was crucified and walked with the disciples and they didn't know it was him); one of the wives in our group (I'll never forget this) said, "God is only going to show you what you need at that point in time, he's only going to show you what you are ready for."
I've been studying about many of the men in the bible who continually said "Yes" to God, without question, and read as God blessed them beyond belief and stood by them through it all. But I knew that there were other great men in the bible who didn't say "Yes" right away, and I wanted to know why?? So God led me back to Numbers, Joshua, and Samuel. In Numbers, the Israelites have just made it to Canaan (The "Promised Land"), the land they've gone through so much to get to that God has promised them (and led them there PERSONALLY!!). When they get to the edge, they send out 12 scouts for the 12 tribes of Israel to give a report on the land. When the 12 get back, 10 of them are so freaked out by what they saw that they are hopeless, blubbering messes about how big the people in the land are and how powerful their cities are, and on and on they go. Only 2 of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb are positive: "Let's go at once to take the land, we can certainly conquer it!" Num 13:30. Even in Exodus 3 when God appears directly in front of Moses to tell him to go to Egypt to free the Israelites....HE ARGUES WITH GOD!!! And in 1 Samuel 10, after Samuel the prophet and judge of Israel had already anointed Saul to be Israel's first King, when he called all the people together to present him to them, HE HID IN WITH THE BAGGAGE!! God himself had to tell Samuel where he was! Now these aren't small people in the Bible, these are some of the greatest names in the book! Why would they balk at God, why would they question his purpose for them, why wouldn't they move forward into the land God had already given them?? One word: FEAR. The Israelites were so afraid of the Amelekites and the Canaanites that they wanted to elect a new leader to replace Moses to lead them back to Egypt and voluntarily re-submit themselves to slavery under the pharaoh! Moses was afraid when he saw the burning bush and heard what God wanted him to do because he was afraid they wouldn't believe him when he came to Egypt and that he wasn't a good enough speaker! Saul hid from his calling (in the bags it says!) because of his fear of failure and of letting the people down. But God is not a God of fear, but of HOPE and COURAGE and TRIUMPH. At the end of Moses's life, after not seeing the promise God had made to him because of his doubt and disobedience (remember when he "struck" the rock instead of "touching" it?), he repetitively told Joshua as he handed over the torch to him to be "Strong and Courageous; for the Lord will never fail you or abandon you." He said it several times like he was re-assuring Joshua that he would be OK as long as he kept God in the front of his life, and his people.
Reading back through these really got me thinking about me. How many times have I missed out on the "Promised Land" because of Fear?? How many times have I either blatantly told God "No" or ignored him (same thing right?) because I was either afraid of what he was going to ask me to give up (remember, obedience always involves sacrifice, but sacrifice is not always obedience), or what people might think of me, or thinking I wasn't going to get to do what I wanted to do (sounds so dumb doesn't it?!?). I've learned in the past few months that my fears are no match for my God. And every time he calls me to do something, no matter how "big" or "small" it may seem to me, when the fear wells up, I hear Moses: "Be strong and courageous!" and I say "Yes" and God has taken me into new lands I didn't even know I was standing on the borders of! My borders have multiplied 100 fold, not because I'm something special, but because I'm not. I'm not the smartest guy in the room ever, or the most talented, or the strongest, or the fastest, or any of those things...but God likes the underdogs! All of those things get in the way because they make me think I can accomplish all that I want of my own strength, when what he wants is for me to be totally dependant on him.
So what are you afraid of?? Chances are, if you're that afraid, then God has something amazing planned for you, and the enemy wants you to say "no". The enemy wants you to have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years because he knows that will keep God's will at bay in your life. So say "NO" to that spirit of fear, and say "YES" to Jesus and let him lead you into your promised land and help you slay the giants in your life. It's worth it...trust me.....