By Gerald Cowan
Israel had just recently come out of Egypt on their way to the promised land, Canaan. But they were headed for disappointment. All but two of the spies they had sent ahead came back with discouraging reports. “We cannot take this place,” they said. “The cities have strong high walls and strong armies. The people are like giants. By comparison to them we are like grass-hoppers! Yes, it is a wonderful land, and it would be wonderful to live there. But we can never hope to have it.” Because they doubted His promise God made Israel wait until he had destroyed that generation and raised up a whole new generation, to whom He could renew His promise (Number 13:25-14:35).
Forty years passed. Israel was again preparing to enter the promised land. Again they sent spies. But the report was very different this time. There were the same strong armies, the same high-walled cities, and the same people there. So what was different? This time they learned that the news of God’s acts in behalf of Israel had spread through the land and the people were afraid of them. “We can take this place,” the spies declared, “because God has said so. The land is ours. Let us go in an take it, with God’s help” (Joshua 2:1-24).
What made the difference? One generation failed miserably because it saw only the obstacles. People thought they had to take God with them into the land of Canaan. But of what use is a God who can only go where He is carried by His people? Who needs a God whose only power is the combined strength of His followers? Any people whose God is that small can expect life to be filled with failure, disappointment, and discouragement. The new generation of Israel took a second look, a closer look, and found that God was already there! He was not waiting for them to carry Him into the land. He was out in front, preparing the way and urging His people to follow Him.
In every situation, difficult as it may seem, you will see God if you look for Him. If you haven’t seen Him, look again!
God is already there, working among people, working in world conditions, preparing the way and urging us to follow Him. He is ready to help bring about good things for all those who follow Him lovingly and faithfully, who are willing to carry out His stated purposes (Romans 8:28-29). Rather than be waiting for God, we should know that He is already there, ahead of us and waiting for us to come to Him, follow Him.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com