The Twelve Spies
A synopsis of Numbers 13:1-7, 17-24
After crossing the desert on their way from Egypt to Canaan, the land that God had promised Abraham their ancestor, the Hebrews, under the guidance of Moses, were ready to enter the land. God instructed Moses to send spies to check out the land. One man from each of the twelve tribes was chosen to go in. All twelve returned telling of a land flowing with milk and honey and they brought back huge clusters of grapes. But ten of the twelve included reports of huge giants in the land, men so large that the Hebrews seemed like grasshoppers, and as a result, fear for everyone’s personal safety and well-being was sown that day.
The Rich Young Ruler
A synopsis of Mark 10:17-30
A man approached Jesus one day. This man asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life with God forever in Heaven. Jesus reminded him of the Ten Commandments, to which this man replied that he had kept them all, from the time he was a youth. Then Jesus instructed him to sell all that he had and give the proceeds to the poor. Disheartened, the man went away because he had so many possessions.
We, too can have a fear that others will physically hurt us. Those spies believed that the giants in Canaan, the land that God had promised them, were going to slaughter them. We can often feel the same way.
In 1990, I had such a fear. We were new missionaries at the time, and there was an area of town known for its gangs and was considered a very unsafe area. I had a horrendous fear that someone would want me to go teach a Good News Club© in that area. I had three children of my own that would go with me. I feared for our physical safety. What was I to do? Well, back I went to 2 Timothy 1:7. If someone wanted me to teach a club in that area, then God would provide the protection we would need to get it done. By the way, I was never asked to teach a club in that area. I was just borrowing trouble! Matthew 6:34 is very appropriate for this too: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
We might fear we will not have enough resources for the present or the future. This is how the rich young ruler must have felt. Fearful that, if he gave all he had to the poor, he wouldn’t have enough to eat, a place to stay, clothes to wear. I felt that way as we prepared to enter full-time ministry with Child Evangelism Fellowship in 1989, and again as we prepared to leave for missionary work in Thailand in 2006. And, yet again, this fear rears its ugly head as I begin considering repatriation to the States.
I’ve already shared the first story, about preparing to serve with Child Evangelism Fellowship. Seventeen years later, I had a well-paying teaching job. I was teaching middle school science. Most of the time I loved my work. The times I didn’t love it was when the middle schoolers behaved poorly and wore me out. Outside of my student loan and our mortgage, we were debt free. I loved our church and the people in it. I especially loved singing in a top-notch choir. But on December 26, 2004, the Boxing Day Tsunami struck throughout the Indian Ocean region and my husband went to assist with relief. He came back home with a heavy burden for Thailand. The end result was heading to Thailand on August 6, 2006 to minister to the Thai who had been affected by the Tsunami.
My husband and I, then in our late 40s, had finally begun to contribute to retirement accounts about two years previously. That would end when I left my teaching position, leaving us to depend on the floundering U.S. Social Security system for our retirement income – and God! We thought our son and his family would live in our home, paying the mortgage, but after a year, that wasn’t working out for them. We lost the house and all the equity in it. Then the “what ifs” began again:
What if, when we repatriate, we don’t have a place to live?
What if, when we retire, we don’t have enough to pay our bills and still eat?
What if? What if? What if?
Now, as we are entering our 60s, these “what ifs” jump to the front of my mind again. BUT GOD has promised in Mathew 6:33, 34 that, if I will but seek Him first, He WILL provide all our needs. I don’t have to fear for the future if I am fully following Him.
We sometimes fear that we might get hurt if we do one thing or another. Sometimes being a homemaker can cause me to fear for my physical safety.
What if I fall off the step ladder while changing the light bulb or painting the wall or hanging the picture?
What if the oil pops and burns me while I’m cooking a meal?
What if the 220V electric zaps me when I plug in or unplug the toaster?
Growing up in the U.S. with 110V electricity flowing through the general house wiring, we were taught to greatly fear the 220V electricity that powers electric stoves and ovens, electric clothes dryers, and air conditioners. If we needed to unplug such an appliance, we’d not only turn off that particular circuit breaker, but probably the main breaker to the whole house.
Living overseas, I’ve had to give up that fear. Can you imagine cutting the power every time you plug in and unplug the toaster? Remember, power to the wifi router would also be cut, along with the power to the alarm clock and all those appliances with clocks, such as the microwave and DVD player. You get the idea. And again, cutting the power to plug in and unplug the blow dryer, the curling iron, the phone charger, the power supply to the laptop, the iron . . . the list can go on and on. And the inconvenience is not only to you, but to your whole household. This particular fear of personal hurt could be quite debilitating.
You might ask if people really live in fear of these daily uses of electricity. The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Come live where I live and observe how people live in my neighborhood. It seems to be either total fear of or total disregard for the 220V electricity.
We sometimes fear that we might get sick if we do, or don’t do, something.
“Germaphobia” (not used here as a medical diagnosis) is rampant in the U.S. I see it more now that I’ve lived and not just visited overseas. It seems as if every cleaning product is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Kitchen counters are bleached in one way or another multiple times a day. The same goes for every bathroom fixture. Hard flooring is disinfected daily. Many little children are disallowed from playing outside in the grass and dirt and mud most of the time. If they do get to play on the grass, Mom is there with a pack of disinfectant wipes scrubbing their hands and faces every fifteen minutes or so. Then comes the time for the child to enter kindergarten.
As a former kindergarten teacher, I can share my personal experience. This is not a scientifically controlled study, just my personal observation. I observed two basic types of student health in kindergarteners: Those with the occasional sniffles and little to no fever, and those who were absent from school much of the time. It was the children who often played in the grass, dirt, and mud who missed less school! Why? It is my understanding that they had been exposed to germs little by little and had built up personal immunity over time.
As adults, I see a similar phenomenon. Teams will come to assist us in ministry here. They come with multiple packs of disinfectant wipes. They brush their teeth with bottled water. They insist on expensive little bottles of (sometimes imported) drinking water. They must be wondering if the large, very inexpensive, bottles of purified water have been purified enough. They refuse to enjoy ice in their drinks, and refuse uncooked vegetables and fruit. Some places this is necessary. Where we serve, it is not. The one piece of advice we give them – wear mosquito repellant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is totally disregarded. Where we are, the problem is not malaria, although many will take daily anti-malaria pills; the problem is the four strains of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever which is carried by the aedes aegypti mosquito. That same mosquito carries Yellow Fever (not a problem here) and the Zika virus.
So, what are we to do?
Recognize fear for what it is: fear.
Second, look back at 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV) Focus on the term “sound mind.”
Third, I think we need to examine these particular fears. There may be things we can do to prevent some of this.
Has God enabled me to save a reasonable amount for my retirement? By all means, do it.
Make sure that step-ladder is fully open and stable before climbing on it to change a light bulb or hang a picture.
Plug things in properly, with dry hands, and unplug properly, with dry hands and not yanking on the cord.
Wash your hands properly when you should be. Wipe down the counters and keep the bathroom clean. Sweep and mop your floors regularly.
When traveling, especially overseas, research what is truly needful, and when locals strongly advise something, follow their suggestions.
Remember that “sound mind” that God has given you? Use it. Then, don’t live in fear.
Photo snitched from http://www.theonlinemom.com/best-apps-personal-safety/