The story about the 12 Israelite spies checking out the Promised Land is a familiar one (Numbers 13:17-14:25). Upon their return, they report their findings to Moses and the masses:
“We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit as proof.”
They hold up a humungous bunch of grapes. The crowd gasps and applauds. And then they continue:
“But the people living there are powerful, and the cities and towns are fortified and very large. We also saw the descendants of Anak who are living there! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill county. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”
The crowd quiets. Men and women frown, and the entire atmosphere changes.
“We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that’s what we looked like to them.”
Notice where their focus lies—on the perceived dangers ahead.
Caleb—knowing that God had already promised victory to the Israelites—tries to redirect them: “Let’s go at once to take the land! We can certainly conquer it!” But his words fall on deaf ears.
Ten spies allow their fear to override their faith. They focus on the seeming impossibilities rather than on the God for whom nothing is impossible, and they influence millions to follow suit. The result? God says, “”Now turn around and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea” (14:25). They spend the next 40 years wandering in that wilderness rather than living in a land of plenty as God had originally planned.
Does our focus determine our future?
Absolutely. So long as we’re warm and breathing, we’ll face challenges of every sort. If we focus on them, we’ll soon convince ourselves that they’re too big for us to handle. Why try? Why even bother resisting? Before we know it, we head down the path of discouragement and ultimately defeat.
On the other hand, focusing on God’s presence and power changes our perspective. It gives us the courage needed to press forward and to face the enemy. By God’s power, we are more than overcomers.
Does our focus matter? Yes. It determines whether we enter into the Promised Land or wander in a wilderness of the soul.
How does this resonate with you? Have you seen this prove true in your life?