These last three weeks have been brutal to say the least.
Let me explain: I am someone who cherishes her sanity. And my sanity is tied to my ability to have down and alone time. I am an extroverted introvert. My life and job are very outward facing, and to pour so much out to people, I require time alone to meditate and just exist in solitude. I need to be able to do things that calm me – cook, bake, do laundry, walk around my apartment looking toe up. I need to be able to dress up, go out and slay, then come home, put on pimple cream and curl up and just lie in bed awake doing nothing because I have no energy left. I need to be able to turn off and not have to feel like I’m offending anyone. These things keep me calm and level-headed.
That has not been the case these last three weeks.
I have been living out of a single suitcase, and have to walk three blocks to do laundry. The weather has been unpredictable to say the least, and I have acquired a persistent cough. Between moving to a new city with less than a twentieth of my possessions, jetting off to another continent for a week, and then back to continue the nightmare of apartment hunting in NYC, I have been nothing short of STRESSED. In the last week I have been tossed back and forth by a realtor, ended up on morphine in the ER, and allowed the pressure to cause me to blow up at someone I really care about. Needless to say, by the end of this week I was neither looking slayed nor feeling very saved.
In a bid to escape my crazed state of mind, I hopped on a bus back to DC to spend time with family. My friend Menee is like a safety harness when I’m headed off the edge and always finds a way to reel me back in. My sister’s awkward dancing never ceases to make me laugh. My brother-in-law’s level-headed advice that is the most perfect combination between spiritual and rational and always makes me exhale. And of course, the squeals and skips of my niece every time she sees me and runs to me absolutely lights up my world. The sermon at church this morning spoke DIRECTLY to what I was going through with balancing all the good and bad in my life and gave me new hope. It was all exactly what I needed.
I hopped on the bus back to NYC this morning, refreshed and ready to take on whatever would come next…
Except I had no idea that what would come next was arriving in NYC and having a rainstorm start out of nowhere while I was toting paper bags full of warm clothing.
So as I stood on the crowded train headed back to my friend’s apartment where I’ve been crashing (because no one would give the girl with the soggy paper bags their seat) I found myself asking God what He had gotten me into. My career was going great, I had a job I loved and was passionate about, and my finances were looking better than ever. I finally had some sort of direction in my life and could see all God’s promises coming to pass, and yet everything else seemed to be in shambles. I couldn’t help but allow the thought to creep into my head: “If this is the Promised Land, then take me back to Egypt!”
And suddenly God quickened my spirit and reminded me that how I was feeling was exactly the same way the Israelites felt in Numbers 13 and 14.
When the Israelites reached Canaan, the Land God had promised to give their forefathers, God instructed Moses:
“Send men to scout out the country of Canaan that I am giving to the People of Israel.”
The spies went into the land and came back with this report:
“We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan… We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”
Basically, the spies went into the land God had already promised them – that He had already told them He was giving to them – and saw how good it was. They saw and actually returned with evidence of just how good it was, and yet all they could focus on were the obstacles that seemed to stand in their way and prevent them from taking the land. They saw the land was good, but didn’t actually think they had what it took to possess it.
In that moment on the train, God reminded me that our Promised Lands don’t always look like we expect them to. Yes, there is always good when it comes to a promise God has made to us, but there is also always resistance. As Steven Furtick says, “The resistance is greatest at the point of your breakthrough.” The enemy will always step in when there is progress and hit you in the places it hurts most: your peace of mind, your joy, your faith, your courage. He will make you feel like you are a grasshopper in the face of giants you have no right battling. Because He cannot take the Promise or anything that has been given to you, he will attack your view of it in order to cause you to CHOOSE to forfeit it.
Case in point: the response of the Israelites to the report of the spies was this:
The whole community was in an uproar, wailing all night long. All the People of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The entire community was in on it: “Why didn’t we die in Egypt? Or in this wilderness? Why has God brought us to this country to kill us? Our wives and children are about to become plunder. Why don’t we just head back to Egypt? And right now!”
Soon they were all saying it to one another: “Let’s pick a new leader; let’s head back to Egypt.”
The threat of giants that they felt they could not overcome was enough to make them want to go back to the bondage God had delivered them from.
And yet there were two spies who stood up and opposed the others:
Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, members of the scouting party, ripped their clothes and addressed the assembled People of Israel: “The land we walked through and scouted out is a very good land—very good indeed. If God is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And he’ll give it to us. Just don’t rebel against God! And don’t be afraid of those people. Why, we’ll have them for lunch! They have no protection and God is on our side. Don’t be afraid of them!”
Joshua and Caleb did not ignore the obvious fact that there was opposition that came along with the Promise – but they also did not allow the opposition to blind them to the fact that the land was still good, or cause them to overlook the fact that God was on their side, ready to fight their battles.
As I sat on the train, I began to ask myself how many of God’s promises I’d forfeited because they didn’t look as rosy as I expected them to, or because they came with a little opposition. How many times had I given up on the vision because it wasn’t exactly how I pictured it to be?
Maybe you’ve done the same in your own life. Maybe you quit that job you prayed for for so long because your boss was difficult and the responsibilities were more than you expected. Or maybe you broke off that relationship or filed for that divorce because you thought that loving someone was supposed to be easy. Maybe you left that place you thought God was calling you to because life was harder than you expected it to be and you got a little uncomfortable. Maybe you allowed a couple challenges, obstacles or failures in your dreams deter you from believing for breakthrough altogether. Maybe you’re on the verge of any one of these things. If so, I’m going to encourage you with the words God gave Joshua when he was heading in to face the giants and possess the land God had promised them, and the same words he gave me as I stood soaked on that subway train today:
“Cross to the country I’m giving to [you]. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”