October 22, 2021
Numbers 13:21-25 (NIV)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
It’s today again, which means it is another opportunity to encourage one another.
I wonder how many of us today find ourselves in a situation we didn’t really choose; in a scenario that chose us. Something happened somewhere along the way to interrupt our best laid plans. Maybe it was cancer or divorce or the unexpected and perhaps untimely death of a loved one. Maybe it was the loss of a job or a community in an unforeseen move. Maybe it was the slow rising tide of an addiction; what began as a glass of wine in the evening has become boxes of wine every week.
Certainly the global pandemic has pushed all of us into ways of wilderness life we would never have chosen. We have taken to watching church on TV as if church were something that could be watched and we wonder if we will ever really go back. In short, we have been pushed into ways of life we could slowly and easily settle into, setting up house in a wilderness never meant to be our home.
This was the story for the people of God in the book of Numbers. They hated life in the wilderness and yet it had become their life. They grumbled and complained about everything almost constantly, yet not only would they come to settle for life outside of the promises of God, they would make themselves at home there. No one ever consciously chooses to live beneath the promises of God, though. They just don’t choose the faith it takes to claim and pursue the promised life.
That’s what we will face here with God’s people in the wilderness. And that’s what we are facing in our own lives right now. Will we choose God and the promised life and the faith it requires of us, or will we quietly not choose at all and settle for the striving mediocrity and comfortable existence of a predictable life. The bad news? We only have one shot at this life and it is passing us by. The good news? We get to choose, and the opportunities to choose keep coming around; until they don’t. Here is my deep encouragement for your heart (and mine) right here and right now.
“This is why it is said:
‘WAKE UP SLEEPER, RISE FROM THE DEAD, AND CHRIST WILL SHINE ON YOU.'” Ephesians 5:14
Many of us need to take a reconnaissance mission into the promised land of possibilities ahead in our own lives. It’s time to shake off the grave clothes of the pandemic and all it has meant. We can’t settle for this present wilderness and succumb to our deep tendency to make ourselves at home here. Nor can we go back to normal. We must press on toward the promise. It is time to explore the unpredictable life of the promises of God.
Now I want you to get a picture of the veritable farmer’s market these twelve explorers brought back with them from this land of promise.
When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.
Father, I am tired and weary of this season of life. I didn’t see it coming and I don’t see a way out. I confess, that I am slowly getting used to it. And I know if I don’t wake up I will gradually settle for it. Let all of this shaking we have been through accrue to awakening to you, Jesus. I am desperate for you, Lord. Come Holy Spirit and take me into the new land of the New Creation life you made me for. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Do you find yourself slowly settling for a life beneath the promises of God? What are you turning to in order to prop your life up these days? Don’t you want better? Will you risk simple honesty today? Name the place? Make an alter to Jesus. Name the altar. Get ready for deliverance.
For the Awakening,