Caleb: Following God Wholeheartedly
Last week, we talked about some things that keep us from a life with God. This week, we are going to narrow in on one roadblock most of us can relate to.
The Israelites, when they came near to Canaan (the promised land), were afraid when the spies sent to scout out the land returned with their reports. Twelve spies went into the land, and only two came back with confidence – Caleb and Joshua. The rest were terrified, and this spirit of fear, much to Moses’ dismay, prevented them for 40 years from entering the promised land. Caleb and Joshua were the only ones permitted to enter. The rest of the adults died before the people entered the land promised them by God.
This story speaks to me, and I hope it speaks to you. God had performed miracle after miracle for the Israelite people. He had been with them in a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day. He came to dwell among the people in the tabernacle. He provided for their needs when they complained. He was with them. He cared for them. And yet, when faced with a battle they did not think they could win, they were afraid.
The children’s focus verse for this week says “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:24).
Caleb followed God wholeheartedly and entered into God’s promises. Will we be like Caleb or will we be like the rest of the Israelites?
We may not have the presence of God in a pillar of fire or a cloud. He may not dwell among us in a physical tabernacle or cover a mountain with the glory of His presence. We may be tempted to think that if the Israelites could not bring themselves to trust God after all the miracles and after dwelling with them in a physical way, then how can we? The Israelites had experienced God again and again and again…and yet they were still afraid. They did not think they could not receive what God was offering to them because fear overtook them. If they could not trust God after all they had seen of Him, then how can we trust God today? How can we be like Caleb?
Something changed when Jesus died and rose again – something that enables us to no longer live in fear.
Look at Jesus’ disciples.
Before his crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, denied Him, betrayed Him. They were afraid, and their fear prevented them from acting courageously.
When God dwelt among the Israelites, He dwelt among them, but not in them. The tabernacle where His presence dwelt was a physical place, but few were allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies where He dwelt. His presence was both among them and separate from them. But this tabernacle points forward to Pentecost. It points forward to the day when God’s people become the tabernacle. God’s people become the place where His actual presence dwells.
This change changes everything.
We may be tempted to be like the Israelites – to give in to fear and let the circumstances of our lives keep us from a life with God – the life of His promise.
But here’s the thing. We don’t have to be like them. We can be like Caleb. We have a different Spirit in us than is in the world. We can enter all of God’s promises. We can live unafraid. We can trust Him fully. All the signs the Israelites received were nothing compared to what we have today. Because of Christ Jesus, we are never alone. Not only are we never alone, but the One who is with us is Love, Power, and Peace.
He REALLY REALLY REALLY will take care of us. We really can surrender ourselves fully, and like Caleb, follow Him wholeheartedly. It will not be easy, but it is so possible. It will be the way of suffering – Christ calls us after all to follow Him in His suffering, but it will be real life. It will be courageous, Spirit-filled, joy-filled, fruitful, beautiful.
It will be the life we were created to live.
So, what do you think, fear or life? As always, our children are watching. The example we set for them in this will speak volumes. Do we live in fear, or do we live in trust? Do we fret and worry, or do we trust, pray, and praise?
This week, I have a challenge for you. At least one time this week, when you feel afraid, gather your children, and stop and pray. Turn over the fear to Him. Praise Him, and then give up the worrying over that concern. Give it to God, again and again if needed, but do not allow fear to keep you from Him. Talk with your children about what to do when they are afraid. Tell them again and again that God is trustworthy. Then show them that you trust Him.
We truly do not need to live in fear. We can be like Caleb – following God wholeheartedly.
May God bless your family as you turn to Him.