How to handle the giants in your land of milk and honey

Last week at church camp I sat in one of the best Bible classes I’ve ever had. In a class for children ages seven through nine, this thirty-nine year old lady learned more than anyone. The topic was the twelve spies who were sent to spy out Canaan in Numbers 13 and 14. I’ve heard this lesson so many times. I had even read it earlier that week. The teacher drew out the lesson on a whiteboard, showing the two spies that brought back a good report of the land and the ten who were afraid because of the giants in the land. The ten said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”

The two reminded everyone that God was with them, and He could handle the giants.

Nothing so far that I hadn’t heard before.

Then the teacher asked the question, “Did God say there wouldn’t be giants?”

The children in the room all shook their heads and called out “No!”

It’s such a simple question. The answer is obvious, and yet it is clear from the passage that the Israelites were not expecting giants. God promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. He promised that the land would be theirs and that He would be with them. Whatever image the Israelite spies had in their heads about this land, it clearly did not include giants.

Did that make God a liar? Did the presence of the giants indicate that God was no longer with His people?

Of course not, and yet…

How often do I doubt God’s promises because things aren’t quite as I expected them to be?

Too often, I have to admit.

The Giants in my Land

That morning going into class, I could already relate to this story of the twelve spies. Doubting God and His faithfulness in my life is a weakness for me. It wasn’t until I heard the teacher ask that question that I understood why.

Did God say there wouldn’t be giants?

It’s not that God has ever reneged on one of His promises. He hasn’t. The problem is that I come up with my own idea of how things will be, and when they are not what I expect, I lose faith. Just like the Israelites.

The problem is that in my vision of life, there are no giants. There is only the land flowing with milk and honey. There is only the promise of victory and rest.

And all of a sudden there’s a giant standing right in the middle of it all.

God never said he wouldn’t be there, and yet I didn’t expect him.

I didn’t expect the tiredness, the discouragement, the unexpected expenses, the worries of raising a teenager. And yet there they are. Right in the middle of my land of milk and honey.

How to handle the Giants

And now I have a choice to make.

I can choose fear, or I can choose trust.

To be pleasing in God’s eyes, I follow the example of the two spies who trusted God.

“The Lord is with us; do not fear them.” Numbers 14:9

When a giant that I wasn’t expecting stands before me, I remember God’s promises.

 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

What stands before me may not be what I expected.

It may not be what I want.

It may not be what I thought the answer to my prayers would look like.

However, there is no need to fear.

When I keep the faith, God is still with me.

And He can handle the giants.

“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:39

Do you see the pieces or the puzzle?

A one thousand piece Yoda jigsaw puzzle sits unfinished on a table in the corner of my bedroom. The kids and their father are huge Star Wars fans, and it was a gift for Father’s Day last year.

Yes, last year, and we’re still working on it one year later. We are getting closer to completing it, though. It’s just a tough puzzle. It’s not only 1000 pieces, but each piece is a picture within a picture, a “photomosaic” it’s called.

As I sat working on it one evening last week, my oldest daughter came and sat beside me. She said “Oh, I see what that red is. It’s the other guy’s light saber.” I had no idea what she was talking about.

She explained how Yoda was holding his light saber and the red in the corner was his opponent’s light saber. I told her I was so busy looking at the pieces and the tiny pictures that I had forgotten that Yoda was even holding a light saber.

She said, “You see the pieces. I see the puzzle.”

She was right, of course. 

It’s really easy to focus so much on one tiny piece, on where it fits or doesn’t fit, that we lose sight of the big picture. We forget the overall picture that all these tiny pieces create.

We lose sight of their purpose.

Seeing the Puzzle

In my life, there are some pieces that I’m not sure what to do with. There are also those pieces I try to force into a place they’re just not meant to be. Sometimes I need to step back and look at the big picture to understand how they all fit together.

When I focus on only one tiny piece at a time, I can still fit the puzzle together, but I don’t fully appreciate it.

It helps to step back and look at the whole puzzle. When I do, I remember the purpose of those tiny pictures.

I remember that while I may not understand where each piece fits in, each piece does have a purpose in the bigger puzzle. Each piece is necessary.

Lord, help me to See

My life is my own “photomosaic” created by God. He has designed my life in such a way that each tiny piece is a necessary part of the complete picture.

I pray for eyes to see each piece in my life in the context of that bigger puzzle.

While I may not understand right now where each piece fits, I trust in the One who created the puzzle.

I pray for eyes that will be enlightened to focus not just on the pieces, but on the puzzle He created.

In doing so, I may just find a light saber I had forgotten was there.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18

That’s a Dad Question

It would be interesting to keep up with exactly how many questions my children ask in a day. The question can be as simple as What’s for dinner? or What time do we need to leave? I can handle those. However, the question is more often along the lines of How exactly does a digital scale work? Why can’t you put metal in the microwave? or Why are magnets north-south instead of east-west? When it comes to the latter type of question my typical response is Hmm…that sounds like a Dad question.

How do you play the guitar? – Also a Dad question.

With children as inquisitive as mine are, it comes in handy to be married to a science teacher. I could try to give them an answer on my own. I might get some of it right. However, when they go to their dad, they are assured of getting an answer that is 100% correct. And he is always willing and ready to teach.

But what do you do when the questions are even tougher? Where do you go when late at night one of your children comes to you struggling with the concepts of eternity and death? What do I do with a question such as What is my purpose? What happens when I die? Why is there war?

And, yes, I have dealt with all of those questions and more in the past week alone.

 A Question for the Father

As thankful as I am to be able to direct my children’s science questions to their earthly father, I am even more thankful to be able to direct my children’s tougher questions to their heavenly Father.

I honestly don’t know how I could possibly raise my children without the Bible to guide me. I can not imagine dealing with their fears and questions without the Bible to turn to.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

It’s one thing to walk through this life stumbling and groping for answers on your own, answers that may or may not be correct. It’s an entirely different thing to take your children on that path with you.

A Question of Truth

The first one of those tough questions came to me when my oldest child was six years old. She asked where her grandfather would be when he died. While I had the correct answer –  He’ll be in heaven with God – I realized with that question that my role as a mother includes more than loving my children and providing for their physical needs. My role requires answering the tough questions that are sure to arise.

In the face of those questions, I need to be able to answer my children with certainty. It is not enough to just give my best shot at the answers and hope they are correct. I need somewhere to go where I am assured of getting answers that are 100% correct. I need a source of truth.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17

These are times when the correct answer to the question comes only from the heavenly Father.

Be Prepared

The tough questions don’t come up on a daily basis. Most days are too busy for constant deep questions of eternity and purpose. However, the questions will come. They will come late at night or in the face of tragedy. We will at times be shaken from our daily thoughts into questions that are deeper. I need to be prepared to answer those questions.

Thankfully, I am not alone.

I don’t have to come up with an answer that I hope is correct. Instead, I can take my children to the Bible and let the heavenly Father answer those questions for us. He is always willing and ready to teach, and in His words are life and peace and truth. I can not imagine answering any one of those questions without Him.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” John 6:68