Brett walked in the front door after teaching freshman speech class. The wind had blown his slightly too long hair in various directions and he looked tired. “So how did class go today?” I asked. He sighed, ran his fingers through his hair and told me the following story (in his owns words):
“I have lost all faith that there will be any of kind of future for this country because all my college kids are idiots. I gave them three little things to do for their speeches. Three simple little skills that an eight year old can do. I told them verbally, I wrote them on the board, I made them say the skills back to me. Everyone agreed they were easy to do and should be done. After six speeches, no one has done them. It’s like, as soon as they begin speaking, all memory of what they learned and agreed to vacated their mind. They were giving their “Demonstration” speeches today. I repeated the simple instructions for the speech and I ended it with this phrase, ‘Above all else do not end your speech with this oft-repeated phrase: Aaaaaand I guess that’s all there is.’ All of the class agreed, they would not, could not, and should not say that phrase at the end of their speech. Not just the demonstration speech, but any speech they would ever give. One by one the students took their turn in front of the class room to give their speeches. Only one student applied all of the instructions. Everyone else left out various instructions and without fail, all except the one student, ended their speech with the forbidden phrase; Aaaaaand I guess that’s all there is. I give up. These children cannot be taught. We need to stockpile food and water now because the end of the world is coming as soon as these college kids are released into the world.”
When the Israelites left Egypt the Egyptian army followed them and they were caught between a large body of water and the Egyptian army. Despite their complaining God parted the body of water and the Israelites crossed to the other side in safety. When the Egyptian army tried to follow them, God removed His power that held up the water and the army drowned. The Israelites learned many things on the way to Canaan, the promised land. God gave them the Ten Commandments. He provided them with manna and water from a rock. God gave them instructions and faith building experiences, but when they arrived to the edge of the promised land they didn’t want to enter. Why? Because they had sent spies into the promised land and they had seen giants. Giants too big for them to over come. Surely if they entered the promised land they would all die. They wanted to stone Moses and find someone to take them back to Egypt so they could become slaves again. How quickly they forgot God’s instructions and how He had taken care of them.
The Israelites had followed the glory of God in the fiery cloud whenever it moved. They were waiting to go into the promised land. But, when God said, “Follow my glory into the promised land.” They looked past His glory and His power and saw the giants. They quit looking at the power of God and said, ‘The giants are so big and we are so small, they will crush us.” Their lack of faith crushed themselves. The fear of the giants crushed them and they didn’t even have to cross into the promised land for it to happen. Their pride allowed fear to block their view of what God promised to do for them. Pride said, “You are in charge here and there is no way you can conquer those giants.” They let their own reasoning, their own intellect tell them they knew more than God. Their intellect out trumped the power of God. God wanted to show what He could do for His people who humbled themselves and said they couldn’t but He could.
The Israelites had it backwards. They didn’t have to be afraid of dying in the promised land, they needed to die before they entered the promised land. They needed to die to self, die to pride, believe that God would take care of them despite the giants. When we have that kind of humility we can walk unafraid into the land of the giants and God will turn it into the promised land. Follow the pillar of fire, pursue God’s glory today. Don’t worry about whether or not you can do it tomorrow or next week because it might be too hard. Just follow it today, right now, for the next minute and when you keep your eyes on His glory you won’t even see the big rocks or giants in the way because God will make a way through them or around them, just keep your eyes on Him, His power and what He can do. Follow His instructions and do His promises. Let’s not be like Brett’s students and agree with everything he says, but when it comes time to put it into practice we seem to forget everything we know to be good for us. Just remember though that when we do forget, God will forgive us. His love for us never ends, it flows on forever. Jump in the current of God’s love and let it carry you to your destination.