Today’s Daily Office includes this reading from the Book of Deuteronomy:
“And when the LORD sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, he said, ‘Go up and take possession of the land I have given you.’ But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You did not trust him or obey him.” (Deuteronomy 9:23)
Just in case you don’t recognize it, this verse is referencing a story that’s told in greater detail back in Numbers 13 and 14. God had liberated the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt with a series of signs and wonders. The LORD had given them His commands and had brought them to the edge of the Promised Land. Finally, they were nearing the realization of everything they had hoped and longed for.
However, before they entered the land they decided to send some scouts who would survey its conditions. When the scouts returned, they reported that the land was indeed a good one, “flowing with milk and honey.” But some also reported that its current residents were strong – so strong, in fact, that the Israelites would not be able to defeat them.
Of course, the leaders urged faith: “If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land…and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land…the LORD is with us.” (Numbers 14:8-9) But it was no use. The people refused to act on God’s promises, and the result was 40 years of wilderness wandering.
Now, truth be told, I’m generally the kind of person who likes to “err on the side of caution.” I’m not one to take unnecessary risks; and before I set out on some big new undertaking, I like to have a relatively clear plan for how I will succeed. But I can’t help but wonder: How many “victories” (in my life, in the life of God’s people, and maybe in your life, too) have gone “unclaimed” because we simply weren’t prepared to move forward in trust? How many opportunities for service or witness did we miss? How many discoveries about our God and about ourselves did we forfeit? How many blessings were “left on the table” because God’s promises seemed too good to be true?
I’ve got no way to know what promises the LORD might want to fulfill in our lives today. But I do know this: “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24) May God give us the kind of trust in Him that allows us to move forward, leaving no victory unclaimed.