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A Tale of Two Narratives

Numbers 13:1 – 14:25

For forty years the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness repeatedly doing laps of the mountain. At times they struggled to stay positive and faith-filled, often when presented with two paths the people chose the wrong path, usually the more comfortable, pleasurable or selfish option. An example of this is when the twelve spies were sent into the promised land to explore and report back.

Ten of them had a narrative inspired by fear, they returned and said, ‘the fruit is great, but the land is full of powerful warriors, the cities are fortified, there are giants, we’re just like grasshoppers beside them and we’ll never be able to overcome them’.

Yet, Joshua and Caleb had a narrative that was inspired by faith. They said, ‘yea, there’s a lot of big lads over there and the cities are strong, but we can take them no problem, so let’s go now and take the land!’ But the other ten disagreed and used fear to convince all the people. The situation became heated, and the people were so filled with fear that they wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb, overthrow Moses, and go back to Egypt!

As this fear-driven narrative took root within the people it caused God to pass judgment; that generation would die in the wilderness without seeing the promise. What a tragedy! But this moment in the Israelite’s journey is so relevant to our journey over the past year. They were experiencing a very difficult time and looking forward to the day they crossed over the Jordan into the new normal, yet they had to realise that the breakthrough was only possible if they had faith in God alone! Judgement came because they chose fear over faith.

Very often we find ourselves having to choose which narrative to believe and it’s so important to walk close to Christ in the power of the Spirit so we can discern which narrative to believe. At times the fear-filled narrative is powerfully and convincingly communicated. In Numbers 13 they spoke of powerful warriors, fortified cities, giants and described themselves as grasshoppers by comparison. Can you imagine if they had social media and rolling news outlets with all the charts and statistics? Can you imagine the interviews at the fortified city walls, the charts and graphs of the giants standing beside tiny grasshoppers? All of it driving a fear-filled narrative.

It’s not difficult to apply this to the times we’re experiencing right now. There is, without doubt, a fear-filled narrative sweeping across the world and while much of the tragedy is so real for so many, Our God is still enthroned above every power and principality! He is still, and always will be in control! He can do whatever He wishes and will always outwork His purposes. This is the narrative inspired by faith that must be at the heart of our outlook. Joshua and Caleb never denied the reality of the challenges, but they knew their God and had faith in Him to lead them into the promises.

As we move into our new normal, we thank God for science but know it isn’t our saviour! We thank God for medicine, but we know it isn’t our saviour! We thank God for those who lead the nations, but as we pray for them, we know they’re not our saviour! Only Jesus can lead us into the promises, so let’s be sure we choose to believe the narrative that is inspired by faith in Him alone. Turn the news off more often, open your Bible, and allow the voice of the Spirit to fill you with a narrative of faith.

Lord, please help me every day to choose faith over fear! Lead me into those moments where Your sweet voice reassures me of Your nearness and that You are outworking Your purposes. Help me to refute every narrative inspired by fear, lead me beside the still waters and fill my heart with faith and passion to obey You in all things. Amen

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