In Numbers 13-14 we read how God said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, WHICH I AM GIVING TO THE ISRAELITES.”
Moses sent some of the leaders to explore the land and they came back saying, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.”
This is where the doubts start, which then escalated out of all proportion. They completely forgot that God had already promised them the land, and therefore His hand was on them.
When Caleb tried to reason with them the people said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”
And they began to spread their doubt and fear amongst the people. The story grew, until next we read:
“The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there. We seemed like grasshoppers IN OUR OWN EYES, and we looked the same to them.”
The doubts continue to grow, with the Israelites crying aloud, and saying, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in the Wilderness! 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?”
Remember this was where they lived in slavery, under unbearable rules and back-breaking hard labour. Amazingly, this suddenly seems more appealing, despite God’s promise to give them the land. It’s astonishing to read, and you can understand why Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in despair.
But isn’t this what happens to us all when we allow doubt and fear to rule in our lives, instead of staying focused on what God has promised us?
When we turn away from God and get preoccupied with fear, it escalates, taking us down a slippery slope, further and further from God. Its a bit like Chinese whispers. It gets more distorted and turns into some enormous catastrophic situation, like this one.
I remember a friend of mine going to see the dermatologist for a regular check up of his skin. He happened to mention to her some flaky skin in his eyebrow. She told him to apply some cream to it and come back in a couple of weeks time and if it hadn’t improved, she would take a biopsy of it, but she expected it was nothing.
During those couple of weeks, fear took hold of him and he convinced himself that he had skin cancer. The fear grew out of all proportion. He began imagining having half his face removed and thinking about how he could possibly continue to do his job because of what would people think. He would be a freak, etc, etc, etc. . . . Exactly like the Israelites.
He failed to notice that the cream cleared up the flaky skin and when he returned to see the doctor, he was still expecting the worst. Instead she said to him, that it was just as she had expected . . . just dandruff in his eyebrow!
Why do we do this to ourselves? The enemy is out to rob us of our joy, and loves to see us going round in circles like this, incapacitated, distracted from what we’re meant to do, sick with doubt and fear, and unable to enjoy life.
Some situations in the world are truly scary. The Afghans, for instance, are facing a truly scary situation. As are those in New Orleans and Haiti. But some of the things we get het up about are all about a matter of perspective, patience, and faith in the Lord, because we will come through them and be stronger than before. Even in the worst situations we have a choice as to how we will manage them. We can be angry with God and turn away from Him for deserting us, or we can lean in closer and be comforted by His love and know Him as our Rock and strong tower.
Keep your eyes on Jesus and stay in a place of peace. It takes practice if you’ve been a person who tends to get distracted by negative thoughts, but some mindful redirecting of your thoughts is achievable. Pay attention to where your thoughts go as a start, and then try to bring them back to a place of gratitude, which always leads to peace.
Be still and know that the Lord is good. He is faithful, compassionate, and can be trusted in all things.
Are you living life on a slippery slope? Have a read of Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord