Summary: This is week 4 of a 7 week series based on the book, the Traveler’s Gift. This week is the Certain Decision and looks at the disappoitment felt by Joshua and Caleb.
Have you ever been disappointed with the way things are turning out but still certain of where you are supposed to be going? Joshua and Caleb followed Moses out of Egypt along with the rest of the people of Israel and during that time they had watched God provide for them time and time again. It was God who parted the Red Sea so they could escape from the Egyptian army that was hot on their trail. And it was God who miraculously provided food for them to eat and water for them to drink. During the day God guided them with a column of smoke and at night God provided a pillar of fire, the ultimate GPS. They were there when Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai and now God had brought them to the very edge of the land He had promised them, all they had to do was go in.
Perhaps you remember the story, 12 men were sent into the Promised Land to bring a report back to the people of Israel and what a report they brought, Numbers 13:27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. The fruit that they were showing off was mentioned earlier in the story in Numbers 13:23 When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. Those are big grapes, even if it was a preacher telling the story and you had to divide by seven to get a realistic size they were still big grapes.
And so the spies brought back this report to Moses and the people of Israel, and I’m sure that people were over the moon and then the spies add these words. Numbers 13:28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! Later in the story they would expand on that statement and say Numbers 13:32-33 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
And when everyone weighed in it was the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, to borrow a phrase from Spiro Agnew, who actually borrowed it or bought it from his speechwriter William Safire, who won the day and it was decided that it was too dangerous to go where God was leading them. The disappointment that Joshua and Caleb felt on that day must have weighed them down and crushed their spirits. And for just a few minutes this morning I want to focus on Joshua and Caleb. After all I’d be willing to wager that nobody here can even remember the names of the other ten. So why waste our time on people we can’t remember.
So, it’s been a couple of weeks since we last looked at the Traveller’s gift so let’s come up to speed. After hearing the author Andy Andrews speak last year I got a copy of his novel the Traveler’s Gift. The book chronicles the journey of David Ponder who travels through time to meet with seven individuals who each offer him one principle to live by. The book is sub-titled Seven Decisions that determine Personal Success.
And so the first week we looked at Ponder’s visit to Harry Truman who encouraged him to choose the responsible decision and understand that he was responsible for where he was in his life. It was then that we looked at the story of Adam and Eve and we learned that we need to accept responsibility for the choices we have made in life. And we need to realize that if we are going to move on in our lives we can no longer blame our parents, our friends or our circumstances.
The next week we looked at the time Ponder spent with King Solomon who told him he needed to choose wisdom, this is the guided decision. And we looked at the need to pursue wisdom through reading books, yes books, not magazines, newspapers or blogs but good old fashioned books, through the wisdom of those who have something to offer us and through prayer and reading God’s word.
From Solomon’s temple Ponder found himself transported to July 2, 1863 at Little Round Top. It is the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg and Ponder meets Colonel Joshua Chamberlain a 34 year old school teacher from Bangor Maine, who is commanding the 20th Maine a volunteer unit in the Union army. And it is from Chamberlain that Ponder learns the lesson of the active decision. If we are going to succeed in life we will need to do something, it is not enough to simple have great ideas unless we are ready to put those ideas into action.