Over the past week I have been reading the book of Joshua. Although diving into an Old Testament book would not have been my first pick, I felt a nudge in my heart and so I turned to Joshua and prayed, “What do you have to teach me, LORD?”
As I read through Joshua, I saw the destruction of many cities and the to death of many Israelites for their disobedience to the LORD. Yet, in the face of this, I was drawn to a passage about a man named Caleb; a man who was faithful to God. Caleb was a man who knew the power and strength of the LORD and thus remained faithful. Yet he was also a man who, because of the unfaithfulness of others, had to wait to enter the Promised Land, despite his own faithfulness. Joshua reads:
Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly’… So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
-Joshua 14:6-9 & 14
Caleb followed the LORD wholeheartedly. However, despite knowing and trusting the LORD, Caleb had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because his fellow Israelites did not trust that the LORD would deliver the people currently residing in the Promised Land over to them in victory. Caleb sought out the LORD for forty years in a place he did not want to be, in the midst of people who did not place their trust God. Yet, because of his faithfulness, Caleb entered the Promised Land and was given the land of Hebron. God recognized Caleb’s faithfulness and blessed him, despite the long years of wandering.
And then I realized, God was asking me if I am being faithful too. Am I turning towards Jesus when I find myself in the wilderness places of my own life? I have often found myself questioning why certain difficult things are happening to me, even when I know the good things the LORD promises to those who love him. Am I too being faithful to the LORD in all circumstances?
Truthfully, being faithful in all circumstances can be challenging. Six months ago, I hit a point in my walk with the LORD where I knew that I needed Jesus more than anything else. It was a time when I finally believed that God was better than _______ (fill in the blank with any number of the shiny things of this world). But in the midst of this new wholehearted pursuit of the LORD, I have had the most challenging six months of my life. From battling spiritually with where my calling in ministry might be, to struggling to know what God intends relationships to look like, I have wrestled in circumstances that I would never wish for, but circumstances that have pulled me closer to the LORD.
Yet in the face of my difficult circumstances, Caleb’s example reminds me that I am to be faithful, that I am to turn my eyes on Jesus in the midst of difficulty. I drew to this section of scripture because Caleb was faithful to the LORD even though he had to endure the wilderness for forty years to receive the Promised Land. He knew that being faithful was worth it. He knew that God would fulfill His promises. Caleb was faithful despite his fellow Israelites unfaithfulness and despite his circumstances. He waited in faithfulness for the LORD to fulfill His promise. And so should I.
And so, it is my hope that this reminder may be an encouragement and challenge to you too. Although our circumstances may look differently, are you remaining faithful to the LORD in the midst of your own challenges? Are you seeking him wholeheartedly? Are you turning your eyes upon Jesus in the midst of wandering in the wilderness, waiting for God to fulfill his promise in you?
Jubilee Fellows Intern at Orchard Hill and Student of Calvin College