Sunday, July 08, 2012

Facing Up To Life: Problems and Possibilities


Numbers 13: 17-20, 30-31
Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.

It is certainly true that the main difference between people is not the facts they face but the interpretation they give to the facts. A shoe company employed two salesmen and sent them to a remote village to market their products. When they got there they discovered that the villagers have never seen shoes nor used one. The first salesman sent a telex message to his headquarters saying “the villagers have never seen shoes and have never used one. There is no possibility of business” The second salesman also sent a telex to the headquarters saying “the villagers have never seen shoes and have never used one. What a great potential for unlimited business.” They both saw the same thing but gave them different interpretations. The difference is how they looked at the facts before them.

Not so much what life brings to us in her hands as what we bring to life in our spirits makes the difference between people. - Tweet this! 

This fact is illustrated by the experience of the twelve spies of the children of Israel as they spied out the Promised Land. Their purpose in spying was not to determine if the land could be taken. That had already been decided. It was to determine how best to accomplish that task. All found the land to be an exceedingly good land, flowing with milk and honey. All also saw the giants, the sons of Anak. But Caleb and Joshua saw these giants in the light of God. Therefore, they were in no sense terrified by them. They represented only an opportunity. “They are bread for us”. They declared with daring faith (Numbers 14:9); but when the other ten spies saw them they were completely unnerved. “We were in our own sight as grasshoppers” they wailed pitifully “and so we were in their sight” (13:33). Naturally, the only contribution they could make upon their return was one of discouragement and despair. In fact, the whole enterprise of possessing the land had to wait till that generation had died. So there you have it, as you face up to life, will you see only the problems or will you see the possibilities?

Sometimes We Face Life And See Only The Problems Of Life

This is what happened to the ten unfaithful spies. All they could see were the problems.

We are a very problem-conscious age. We have a very keen realization of our Church problem, our social problems, our natural problems, our international problems and our individual problems. We cannot ignore these problems but neither do we need to over-emphasize them and become so conscious of the problems that we are paralysed.

This attitude towards life shows up all the time: A person who is considering accepting Christ as Saviour will reject Him because he thinks he cannot hold out. A person looking at Christian stewardship does not tithe because he cannot understand how he can pay all his bills and still tithe. A student who is getting serious about Christian commitment sees only the possibility of ridicule. A person who thinks about Christian witness and field work fears rebuff. A person who is considering a mission or ministry project fears failure and therefore does nothing. Quite often, looking at the problems of life, we settle down and do nothing. This happened to Israel and can happen to you.

But Sometimes We Can Face Up To Life And See The Possibilities

This is what Caleb and Joshua did. This does not mean that they were not as intelligent and analytical as the other ten spies. It does mean that they were not as obsessed with the problems. They were aware of the problems; they saw more of the possibilities. What does it take to enable us to see the possibilities?

To see the possibilities in life we need a sense of mission. 

These two men had a sense of mission about what they were to do. They went to find a way into the land, not to report the difficulties. With a sense of mission we can succeed.

To See The Possibilities Of Life We Need A Vision Of Strength. 

One’s own self-concept has a lot to do with what he is or does. A person who thinks himself a failure will more than likely be a failure. The ten unfaithful spies saw themselves as grasshoppers before the inhabitants of the land. They considered themselves insignificant and too weak to act. But Caleb and Joshua did not agree: “We are well able to overcome” they said. They had a vision of strength. However we must remember that it is not our strength but God’s. This was God’s plan. It was approved by Him. And it would be empowered by Him. A man once had a shop and sales were very low. So he left the shop unkempt and unattended to and very dilapidated. One day an idea came into his head. He wrote a sign “APPROVED BY THE KING” and hung on the door. Soon the shop became a centre of activity. Simply, the name of the King did the magic.

To See The Possibilities Of Life, We Need Dependence On God. 

The real secret of Caleb and Joshua’s view was dependence on God. Knowing so much about the land as the other spies and also knowing as much about the children of Israel as the other spies, if they depended on their own strength they too, would have been discouraged. But they were willing to depend on God. Notice how they expressed their dependence on God: “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into the land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them”

Man and Child Clipart
The story is told of a young boy who was once molested by a bully on his way to school. When he came back from school he told his father that he would no longer go to school because there was a bully on the way to school. His father promised to go to school the following day with him. In the morning as they walked on the way to school, he held his father’s hand. As they got close to the point where the bully attacked him the other day, the boy told the father: “Father, I can’t hold on to your hand much longer, You have to take hold of my hand now yourself”

We need to recognize that we cannot hold on much longer on ourselves and then ask God to hold our hands.

How will you face up to life? Life presents us each with opportunities, possibilities and problems. We can look only at the problems – and be defeated. Or we can look at the possibilities – and live worthwhile lives. It will all depend on the interpretation that you give to the facts of life and the dependence that you place in God.

No comments:

Post a Comment