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Make 2021 Your Year!

Lately I’ve been working on a project in my Bible reading.  This year, my goal has been to read through each chapter well enough to give it a summary heading.  In many Bibles, these are already listed. However, this one doesn’t have them- primarily so a person will think and create one themselves.  It’s been a rich time of reading.

And, I was almost finished.  I got all the way to Revelation about a week or so ago and I went back to see if there were any I had missed.  For some reason I missed writing down a good section of the first 5 books of the Bible, I suppose I hadn’t figured out my system yet. So I noted every place that chapter headings were missing and I’ve been filling in the gaps this past week. Yesterday I was working on Deuteronomy.  I think I actually listened to that book instead of reading it this year, so all the headings were blank.  Reread the whole thing!

As I began with chapter 1, I was impressed with this verse:

“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them,”

Deuteronomy 1:2-3

I was humbled by how much God lets us CHOOSE!

As is explained further in the chapter, there was an order to how things went down.

1. God told them “Time to Go!”

(v.21) “See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

2. The Israelites suggested a scouting party to see which way they should go.

(v. 22) “Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities into which we shall come.”

I find it interesting that they’ve already been given all their instructions for how to live, how to set up camp, God’s providing their daily manna and meat, and he’s even PERSONALLY DIRECTING THEM DAILY with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night- indicating when to go, and when to stay AND WHERE TO GO, but at this next big task, the Israelites are all, “Ok, we’ve got to plan this thing out carefully.”

3. 12 spies went into the land and came back with a mixed report.

To be fair, the facts were the same for all 12. Joshua and Caleb came back and said, “Let’s go up at once.” The other 10 said, “This land will devour us, the people are giants.”

Want to know something? Both were true.  This is my opinion here, but I don’t think Joshua and Caleb had any clue how it was going to work to take that land.  I think they only knew that God had said they could, so they believed him.  Did they see the giants? Yes.  Did they look any less big to them? I don’t think so.  It’s just that 10 men were convinced they had to figure it out in order for it to work.  2 of them knew that if God said, “Go,” that was the only figuring that was needed.

I can just imagine some of the conversations that may have taken place:

Joshua: Hey! It’s an amazing land!  God said we can have it! Let’s go now!

Other spy: And how do you think that’s going to work? They are giants!

Joshua: I have no idea. But God said we could take the land, so let’s go!

Other spy: You’re so impulsive. We have to have a plan.

Joshua: It hasn’t really been our plans that have saved us any other time since Egypt- in fact every time we’ve had some “bright idea” of our own, it’s gotten us in trouble.

Other spy: This is different. These are giants.  We haven’t ever fought giants. We could die.

Joshua: UGH!  Can’t you just see how God has provided for EVERY OTHER BIG THING WE HAVE EVER DONE? COME ON!!!  LET’S GO!

Other spy: Nope.  I just don’t feel comfortable about this decision. It’s too risky for us. For our families, for our nation.  There are too many unknowns. We don’t have a clear line to how we will succeed. We at least need a viable plan of attack.  We at least need to know how the first steps are going to go.

Everyone else looking on: Yeah, “Other spy” is right.  This is a huge scary thing.  We need to know how we are going to do this or we can’t make this move and it look responsible. We need to be wise here. We don’t currently have the ability to defeat enemies like that.  Maybe later, but not today. I don’t see how that is an option right now.

Joshua: (Pulls hair out in frustration.) BUT GOD SAID…

Others: If you think it’s what God really said, then you show us how it’s going to work. I don’t think you understand just how uncomfortable this is for us, responsible people.

Joshua: HA! I’m not comfortable.  I saw those guys and went behind that bush over there and threw up!  I have no idea how this is going to work. All I know is, God said, “Go up!”  We weren’t really supposed to go up to the spy out the land to see if it was possible.  We were just going up to check it out and get a vision of what God was giving us. You guys are messing this up.

Others: Nah. It’s 10 against 2.  And we agree with the 10.  Wisdom prevails, Joshua and Caleb. Caution rules the day.  We need to be careful- especially since we are so vulnerable right now.

I imagine Joshua and Caleb going off to sit and chat in frustration.  They probably kicked a few pots, banged their head against the tent wall.  They could see the need to act so clearly. They knew what was to be done, but they couldn’t go alone.  They had to stick with their tribe.

Their report takes up about one sentence in the Bible, but I bet it was hours and maybe even more than a day of rip roaring arguments. I bet they did everything they could to convince those people that taking the land was the thing to do.

But there was no swaying them.  And as a result, all of Israel received the consequence of meandering in the desert for 40 years, INCLUDING Joshua and Caleb.  They did get a special reward later, but they were stuck there while all their buddies died off.

Friend, I don’t know what God has laid on your heart, but I bet there is something.  Some action to take.  What has he asked you to do?  Where has he led you that feels scary?

He’s going to let you choose whether or not you do it. He’s content to bless your action or let you learn your lesson wandering around. AND he’s content to let everyone around you have to wander around with you while you learn it.

It doesn’t just cost us personally when we hesitate. It costs everyone. We are a community with others. Our actions and inaction impact those around us every day for better or worse.

Don’t equate God’s direction with feeling comfortable about it. 

Joshua and Caleb would have had to be insane to feel comfortable about the task ahead. They weren’t comfortable, they just took God at his word that if he said “Go up!” it was time to go!

Is it time for you to take action on something? 

Where have you been hesitating?

Dear friend, it’s time to go!

What if 2021 is the year that you look back and say, “That’s the year my life changed!” I did that in 2009. I look back and know that my life has been on a different track since then. My kids are happier, our family is closer, I am taking better care of myself, I have better boundaries, and I am genuinely more joyful about my life. I didn’t think it was possible to feel any different then. Everything isn’t perfect and things don’t all go my way, but I find that the interruptions of life don’t knock me down as hard as they used to and I experience joy over so much more than I used to. I don’t look for ways to zone out away from my real-life every chance I get anymore and when I do have struggles, I have a solid support team that helps me remember the Truth when I can’t remember it myself.

Are you longing for 2021 to be different from 2020?

Listen, I get it! I really do. But here’s the truth: If you want it to be different, you’ll have to CHOOSE something different. It won’t magically change for the better just because the last digit on the calendar is different. Unfortunately, The current circumstances probably aren’t disappearing anytime soon. 

 What I want you to know is: YOU CAN HAVE SOMETHING BETTER! It’s possible for 2021 to be amazing in spite of the circumstances. You can wake up smiling about life! Seriously! It IS possible! It’s not just a dream! It is going to take doing some new things and it’s going to take a good support system!

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In a time where emotions are high, let’s intentionally work on loving our people well.

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