If you spent much time in Sunday School as a kid you know the story of God leading the Israelites out of captivity from Egypt and taking them to the land he had promised them. Sure there was a 40 year detour due to some ungrateful grumps, but eventually God kept his promise and they arrived at the border of the promised land flowing with milk and honey. Caleb and Joshua went ahead to scout out the area and they returned with their report. It was one of those good news / bad news scenarios. Good news, the land is great and flowing with milk and honey. Bad news, giants live there. Ancient Israelites averaged around 5 feet tall and the only measurement the bible gives for giants is the height of Goliath, who would have been around 6 feet and 9 inches. These men were not just giants in comparable height but in their reputation as merciless warriors.
Not surprisingly, the Israelites were not pleased with this report. I would imagine I would feel greatly betrayed in their situation. I mean, this was supposed to be the promise land! Imagine I promised you a new car, and when you arrived you found a large lion sitting in the drivers seat licking his chops while staring at you with hungry eyes. To make that example even more accurate imagine you were in desperate need of a car and had to walk for 40 years to get to this beautiful free car you had always wanted. At the end of such a long journey, you have already overcome so many obstacles just to find more obstacles. How is that the promise land?
I think this story highlights for us some great truths about life. So often the gospel is presented as a place without conflict, a life without pain or problems. But that could not be further from the truth. The difference between Caleb and Joshua, who believed that they could have the land because God was with them, and the rest of the group who were afraid and ready to start the long walk back to captivity was perspective. Giants seem large and scary if you only have yourself and your strength as a reference point. But if God is the foundation of your worldview, and you know how big and strong of a God you serve, giants don't seem that big.
Entering into the places that God has promised does not mean you won't ever have conflict or struggle again. But if we are faithful God puts these problems in perspective. The Giants in front of us are not so terrifying if we compare them to the Giant God who stands behind us. If we are guided by his word, obedient to his calling, and respond to the movement of his convictions and encouragement, he will guide us to a place that is better, even if that place seems more dangerous then where we were before. The hand of God moves Godly men and women in a direction with a promise. That promise is not one of a life without conflict or sacrifice, but the promise that all things are Gods and if He wants he can move mountains or giants out of the way so that we can proceed safely.
When God leads me in a new direction, it always scares me at first. He always puts me at the edge of a place where I have never been. The unknown is terrifying. But if he is guiding, then I should be walking forward no matter what obstacles lie ahead. As long as I fear God and keep his commandments, there is nothing else to fear.
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.