Whining Sweet Grapes Sour with ‘However’ and ‘Besides’

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel…’

“Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said, ‘Go up into the Negeb and… the hill country,  and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many,  and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it 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.

“So they went up… and came to Hebron… to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they also brought some pomegranates and figs… 

“At the end of forty days they returned [and]… came to Moses and Aaron and… brought back word.., and showed them the fruit of the land. ‘We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there…’

“But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’ Then 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 are.’” Numbers 13:1-2,17-23,25-28,30-31

Rich, abundant grapes turn sour under the dampness of our whining. Instead of claiming His every promise, we inject our howevers and besides, complaining about the difficulties and pruning that make His gifts all the richer. We exchange holy expectancy for self-focused fear, unwilling to undergo the faith tests that would lead to a bounty of true fulfillment. (John 15:1-2)

When we explore the land of walking with God, do we see the richness of life learning to trust Him and the rewards of sanctification, or only the obstacles and harsdships should we travel there? We may hesitate to speak up when God has given us a unique voice, or tackle the first step in reconciliation, or hold back from the dirty work required to repent, or make peace. But hard things are necessary to equip us for all God’s prepared- He would have no flabby followers. A life of faith, where Christ is living through us, is one that ventures out, seizes the clusters, and partakes, because He is the One calling and enabling. (Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 13:20-21)

There are always excuses for disobedience, always reasons for not taking on a new challenge or speaking truth due to fear. But when God promises to give the land, to supply courage and victory to overcome, He keeps His word. Will we go at once?

Lord, help me flourish and bring You praise as Your peasant planting by embracing Your bounty Your way, with zealous faith. (Isaiah 5:7)

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