Posted by: pmarkrobb | February 22, 2015

stand against, stand for

If you were sitting here with me now, I’d ask you to tell me a story of a good friend — maybe a best friend — and an occasion when you stood together in a time and place of great testing.  I am blessed to have many such stories of my own, and several have been reawakened by our reading in the book of Numbers.

I confess to getting a little caught up in reading the story of the twelve spies who were sent into the Promised Land by Moses.  I closed my eyes and attempted to visualize the “single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them!” (Numbers 13:23 NLT)  For a good majority of my sacred time, I was one of the spies traversing the wilderness of Zin, the Negev, and the valley of Eshcol.  What an incredible adventure it must have been to explore what the Bible illustrates as a land flowing with milk and honey! (Numbers 13:27 NLT)  Although imagining myself as an exploring spy was great fun, it was the heroic stand of two spies — Caleb and Joshua — against the engulfing tide of fear and rejection (of God himself) which resonated most deeply.  In reading the story of the spies and their report, our 2015 focus of “their story is our story” became intensely personal.

I have taken the lonely stand against an imposing force of untruth and fear alongside other brothers and sisters.  I have listened as others rallied a crowd of opposition.  I have watched human wisdom be substituted for absolute truth and have suffered the alienation and judgment of choosing differently than the majority.  I wonder as you read, if you felt a similar resonance.

Caleb and Joshua chose God, the other ten spies chose fear.  “Let’s go at once to take the land.  We can certainly conquer it!” Caleb proclaimed boldly.  He and Joshua saw the same giants as the other ten spies.  They observed the same conditions that birthed doubt and fanned the flames of fear in the hearts of the overwhelming majority.  Yet, Caleb and Joshua believed God was bigger.  They believed in God’s promise that the land would be their’s.  They believed with God on their side, no one could stand against them.

Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
Numbers 14:9 (NLT)

Stirring, right?!  The people were convicted of their fear and they began looking at each other and excitedly whispering, “Yes, God is with us.  He brought plagues to free us.  He parted the sea to bring us here.  He can be trusted.  He always does what He promises!”  The whispers grew into a din, and the din into a rousing cheer!  Ummmm, no.  Actually, that’s not even close to what happened.

Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones.
Numbers 14:10 (ESV)

I wonder if, in your story of great testing, the reaction of this opposing crowd sounds familiar.  It absolutely does in mine.  It would be great if every stance for truth resulted in the conviction of opposing hearts and collective repentance and reconciliation … but we are human, and it doesn’t always.

The story, as it’s recorded in scripture, doesn’t say anything further about Caleb and Joshua.  At the critical moment, God intervened, and the remainder of the story focuses on Him.  And this is how the story should always end … our stories too.  It truly is all about Him.  Every word of every sentence of every one of our stories, along with every occasion we have to tell them, should always point to, and end with Him.  He allows the testing that matures us, He is our strong tower as we step through it, and He is the One we count it all joy to suffer for.

“I love to tell the story,” the old song says, and Caleb and Joshua’s is an especially good one.  I’d be willing to bet that theirs is also yours.  God loves yours, as much, or more than any other.  Live, and tell, your story for Him!

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Responses

  1. Thanks, I needed to hear this today!


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