Have you ever held out for what looked like an unlikely promise? Or maybe you found yourself staring at a “next step” that seemed over your head?
We’ve been reading through the book of Joshua at small group, and we recently reached the part where Caleb recounts his decision to trust God’s promise, even when the other men with him said it would be impossible. In their eyes, the obstacles were too big or too frightening, but Caleb chose to trust God instead:
“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully.” – Joshua 14:7-8 (NASB)
Going Against The Grain
The background to this can be found in Numbers 13. In a nutshell, Caleb and Joshua were among the 12 spies that Moses sent out to bring word back about the land God had promised the Israelites. Upon their return, 10 of the men told Moses not to go into the land – they said the land itself was great and fruitful, but the inhabitants were strong and the cities were large and fortified.
Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, chose to stand on God’s promise, believing that if God said He would give the land to the Israelites, He would. No matter what the situation looked like.
Fast-forward to Joshua 14, none of the men who doubted God’s word were allowed into the Promised Land, but Joshua succeeded Moses as leader and Caleb was given his very own portion of the Promised Land.
When Obstacles Come…
But there’s more to the story – when the 10 spies gave their negative report about the Promised Land, part of their worry was that they spotted the descendants of Anak living in the land (Numbers 13:28). The Anakim are said to have been big and powerful, and as we see here, they were strong enough to cause the Israelites to fear. Instead of being destroyed as the 10 other men feared, Caleb was given the very land that belonged to the greatest man among the Anakim:
“Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully. Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.” – Joshua 14:14-15 (NASB)
Once again though, the story doesn’t end here. Caleb chose to trust God when others doubted, he stayed faithful to God those next 45 years as the Israelites worked their way through the Promised Land, and now he was being rewarded with the land of the greatest man among their enemies – but he still needed to clear the land.
Chapter 15 records:
“Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak.” – Joshua 15:13-14 (NASB)
Moving Forward With Steadfast Faith
Two lessons I was struck with as we read through Joshua 14-15 were how important Caleb’s faithfulness was and the fact that there was still work to do after the Israelites entered into their Promised Land. In Caleb’s case, he was facing the challenge of clearing out some of the strongest people in the land.
Even so, Caleb’s faith in God’s promise and His faithfulness never wavered. He believed that God would do what He said He would do, and Caleb believed that God was mighty to see it through to completion. Obstacles didn’t mean he was on the wrong path or that God wasn’t with him; they were simply a part of the journey.
That’s a little different from how God’s promise is talked about sometimes today. It’s not uncommon for people to give up when circumstances look impossible (or even inconvenient), and for some reason modern Christian movements seem to tie a lack of obstacles with God’s blessing… which doesn’t make a ton of sense because many people in Scripture endured obstacles while being obedient to what God was calling them to do.
Everyone’s journey is different, and it’s not for us to say how God should and shouldn’t do things. We know He is trustworthy in all things, so we don’t need to worry past that. We can be encouraged, though, knowing that obstacles don’t necessarily mean it’s not God’s will. What’s important is that we continue to seek God, so we are attentive to how He leads instead of how we feel.
Opportunities for change have come up lately that previously would have caused me to hesitate. They’re small, but even still, I find myself ready to move full speed ahead while at the same time thinking, “Wait! How is this going to work? What happens after this first step?”
Even so, I find myself challenged to just say yes. If there’s anything I’ve learned the past few years, it’s that God is faithful to go with us through whatever and wherever He leads.
Sometimes too, we think a change is going to be a lot bigger, scarier, or more inconvenient than it actually is. I’m slowly finding that I don’t need to know how I’m going to do it all. I just need to be willing to say yes and obey, and God gives grace through the steps that follow.
Doing the right thing will sometimes mean going against the grain, holding on to a promise when it looks impossible, or working through tough situations even after you thought you were finally “there.” Don’t be discouraged. Keep seeking God through all of it, and trust Him to lead you forward.
One last note to add: it can be hard to say yes if you’re used to being guarded. Maybe you feel like God is trying to open you up to something that scares you. If you feel yourself fighting it, take a deep breath and open yourself to God. Let Him know He has full reign and you will be obedient. You don’t need to know how all of the details are going to work out; you just need to be willing to go.
Whether the decisions you’re facing today are big or small, don’t be afraid to “just say yes” to the things you know God is pulling at your heart to do. And if you’re not sure, keep praying and seeking God. Seek Him to know His will, but then don’t hesitate when He reveals it’s time to move.
Here’s to saying yes to an adventure of a lifetime! Here’s to our journey, friends.