I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of the “Promised Land” recently. The Oxford English Dictionary says that a promise is, “A declaration or assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen.” When God released the Hebrew people from slavery, He promised them, He assured and declared to them, that He was leading them to a land flowing with milk and honey. After decades of abuse, they would be established in a land that was rich and fertile. A land where cattle could prosper to make the milk, and the plants could grow so the bees could make honey. Their hearts and bellies would be full after years of deprivation! Wow! What a promise from God!
Some of us know the story - after wandering in the desert for forty years, the Promised Land was finally imminent. And as the Hebrews approached this Promised Land, scouts were sent out to survey the land. These people were the first to lay eyes on this land that had been promised to them decades earlier. The excitement must have been immense. They were coming home!
But the scouts returned with unexpected news. They said, “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:27-28, 33 NKJV)
The land was truly flowing with milk and honey. BUT it was filled with strong people and giants! What??! How is that the Promised Land? How is that a fulfillment of what God had promised? They just came from slavery and wandering in the desert, and now they have to fight? In Numbers 14:1-4 we read that the entire Hebrew nation grieved at what they saw. “Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
They thought they were going to easily walk in to the Promised Land. And wouldn’t you long for peace and freedom after years of slavery? Would you want conflict? Would you want to fight and risk losing? Would you want to go back into slavery??
If we are honest, we behave like the Hebrews all too often. When it comes to our ‘promises’, we don’t expect to have to work hard or fight. Whether spirit, soul, or body, we think God has assured us that He is giving something to us, and therefore it’s going to be easy.
And then the tension rises. We realize we are going to have to fight for our marriages, our families, and our careers. We see that the desires of our hearts don’t just fall into our laps, but there are ‘giants’ in the way.
Then we crumble. We question ourselves and doubt God. We don’t want to fight. We don’t want to have to work for it. And it’s not because we are lazy, but it’s because we FEAR. Like the Hebrews, we allow the insecurities of the past to determine our course. Past betrayals, disappointments, and let downs scream at our hearts and we fail to see our current circumstances as God intends us to see them. We see potential for failure, whilst God sees potential for victory. We see potential to be rejected, whilst God sees potential for us to belong.
But the bible does talk about two men who saw things differently. Caleb and Joshua saw the giants, but they knew that with God, they could take the land (Numbers 14:7-9). They had a different spirit. They did not allow their past to dictate their future. They recognized that their God was bigger than any giant or warrior they were facing!
How many of us can learn from Caleb and Joshua? How many of us can look at our circumstances and say, “It seems impossible but I know my God is bigger than this!”
It’s not easy to let go of what our expectations and embrace the reality of what we experience. It’s tough to look to God for strength when we feel like He let us down. But remind yourself of what He has done. Remind your heart how far you have come!
For those dealing with sickness, don’t give up. For those whose marriages are hanging on by a thread, don’t let go. For those dealing with a broken family, the story is not over. For those whose career seems to be in a thousand shattered pieces, He can make all things beautiful.
Your promises are awaiting you. Just keep walking!