#TalkingThursday – If you don’t talk about Jesus who will?
Every now and then, I like stepping back from formal posts and being a little more personal by sharing any spiritual lessons I gained from my life’s experiences. This month I’m sharing the lessons I learnt during my postgraduate degree!
I’ll start off with the story of the 12 spies in Numbers 13:
Numbers 13 [Selected Verses]
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send men to explore Canaan, which I’m giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of their ancestors’ tribes.” 3 So at the Lord’s command, Moses sent these men from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. […] 17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he told them, “Go through the Negev and then into the mountain region. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 Is the land they live in good or bad? Do their cities have walls around them or not? 20 Is the soil rich or poor? Does the land have trees or not? Do your best to bring back some fruit from the land.” (It was the season when grapes were beginning to ripen). 21 So the men explored the land from the Desert of Zin to the border of Hamath. […] 25 Forty days later, they came back from exploring the land. 26 They came back to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. They gave their report and showed them the fruit from the land.
27 This is what they reported to Moses: “We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here’s some of its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. […] 30 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.” 31 But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” 32 So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. 33 We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.”
God had decided it was time for the Israelites to move on from the wilderness into the promised land. Each spy represented a tribe. Of the twelve spies sent to explore the land of Canaan, two were ready to go into the promised land but the other ten didn’t want to move on from the wilderness at all. In fact, they spread lies about the land to get others on their side. They wanted to remain in the wilderness, or better still return to Egypt, where God freed them from slavery (Numbers 14).
If God had moved from the wilderness, why didn’t the Israelites want to follow Him into the promised land?
Their reasons, (or rather excuses) were:
“We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!”
“The land we explored is one that devours those who live there.”
“All the people we saw there are very tall.”
“We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.”
However, these excuses were far from the reality. Let’s do a quick comparison.
The Excuse: “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!”
The Reality: “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.”
Even if the people of the land were very strong, God was stronger. With God on their side, they were more than able to conquer it.
The Excuse: “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there.”
The Reality: “We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here’s some of its fruit.”
When God delivered the people from slavery in Egypt, he promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. The spies sent to explore this land confirmed that the Lord had made good on His promise. Instead of focusing on this, they chose to dwell on features God never mentioned to them, and this caused their heart to be filled with fear.
The Excuse: “All the people we saw there are very tall.” “We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.”
The Reality: The Lord said to Moses, “Send men to explore Canaan, which I’m giving to the Israelites.
We felt “as small as grasshoppers”, “That’s how we must have looked to them”. Hello, inferiority complex much? There is no need to be insecure about a GIFT, more so, God’s gift. It is not about your qualifications, it’s about His grace. Yes, the people were tall, but that was not what qualified them. God didn’t choose them to inherit the land, God chose you! That’s all the confidence you need.
The Israelites didn’t have to worry about how they looked to the Canaanites, all they had to care about was that they were the CHOSEN ones. Don’t let guilt and inferiority complex make you reject God’s gifts; especially the gift of salvation.
Now, despite knowing these realities, I acted exactly as the Israelites did when I had to move back to Nigeria. For months I agonised over my decision. Doing a master’s degree was already me running away from the will of God because He had been calling me back to Nigeria since 2016. However, like Jonah, God had lessons to teach me in my rebellion.
The first thing the Holy Spirit showed me was my problem:
I’d been spoiled in the wilderness. Yes, you read that right. God had spoiled me in the wilderness (UK) and now I didn’t want to return to the promised land (Nigeria).
Have you ever experienced this before? God is calling you somewhere fresh and new but for a number of reasons which seem like very valid reasons to you, you just don’t want to go. You know that this place would be good for you, but you’re too comfortable with where you are now or too fearful of where you have to go to make a move.
Let me explain this by taking us back to the Israelites. It might sound off, but God had spoiled the Israelites in the wilderness. In the wilderness, a desert place, they had food (manna & meat) and drink (water from the rock) that would have been impossible to obtain under normal circumstances. When the same God who made them comfortable in the wilderness was now calling them to a place of true rest, they didn’t want to leave, and who could blame them?
When God gives us all we ask for in the wilderness, why should we desire the promised land? Why would we want growth when we’re comfortable where we are?
I felt the same way.
Why should I leave the UK now? Its been 4 years, I was settling in. I was comfortable, I didn’t want to leave. Now that my Masters was over, I was relieved, but my heart sank. I really really really didn’t want to go back to Nigeria. For a myriad of reasons we may think – electricity, food, roads, internet, church – but it wasn’t all that. For me, it was more of familial reasons.
Ever since boarding school, I’d come to love living away from my parents. I guess it became even worse when I moved to a new country for university. I liked that they had just become a financial source, just connected via phone calls, or short two-week visits, rather than having to physically deal with them and their expectations, running errands for them etc. I liked living alone, and not really having anyone to be accountable to or to bother me. I didn’t want to go home and be under their authority all over again.
Hence my dilemma. I knew I wasn’t called to stay in the UK, but I didn’t want to go back home. At first, I scrambled around, looking for jobs, considering doing the Legal Practice Course. I even made up my mind to become a teacher either in the UK or in some Asian country. I was determined. Lord, please send me anywhere but Nigeria.
But the Lord had other plans.
Everything I tried failed. I finally came to my senses and bought my flight tickets for home. I was in agony, but somehow I felt peace. I had done the right thing. This was my introductory lesson to the sovereignty of God.
I could make plans, but God is in charge of their outcome (Proverbs 16:9). My mere human efforts could never bring about the fulfilment of God’s promises in my life. Abraham and Moses learnt this the hard way and so did I.
Join me next Thursday for the continuation of these lessons, I’ll be discussing how I learned that being fearful will stand in the way of your growth in Christ!
Grace & Peace.