Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it. Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.”” Deuteronomy 1:22-25, NIV
I’m a planner-organizer by nature. Surprises in my day, plan, or schedule stress me out. I like knowing where I’m going and who’s going to be there. I love my to-do lists and knowing what I need to accomplish. And I want, no, I need to know what obstacles I could encounter to feel confident and prepared for what I am about to do. Because when I’m unprepared, I’m anxious and unproductive.
Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
The truth is, I like control. Because when I have control, I’m in my comfort zone and feel safe. And I like to be safe. However, when God calls us to our Promised Land–it’s rarely ever in our comfort zone. And we never have control.
So when He tells us to take possession of our PL, the desire to survey the land makes sense. The urge to see what it’s like, what route we should take, and how to conquer it is good solid practical wisdom.
Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.
However, if we first survey the motives in our heart, we may discover the truth behind the request: Can I do this? Will I be successful? How big are my obstacles? Can I get past them? Is this going to be worth my effort? Am I sure this is what I want? (Notice the pronouns?)
First, there’s nothing wrong with making a plan. If there were, God would have shut it down as soon as Moses presented the request to Him; because “No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord” (Pr. 21:30, NLT). Instead, He gave His blessing and instructions on how to carry it out. (Num. 13:1-24) Beloved, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (Pr. 16:9, NLT).
Please understand, making a plan is wise; it’s the map to help you navigate through your PL. For example: If your PL is teaching, you can’t walk up to most schools and say, “Hey, I’ve come to bless your socks off and teach your students!” No doubt you would bless their socks off, but most schools require a 4-year degree and a state-issued teaching license before they let you loose in a classroom full of kids. Likewise, I can’t go into a publisher’s office and say “Hey, I’ve got an excellent idea for a series of Bible studies that will blow the doors off this place!” No, I have to go through their process of first finding an agent who then sells my book to them.
No matter what our PL is, we need to survey the land to come up with a plan to know how to achieve the purpose God has given us. If you are called to be a nurse, you don’t want to take the same path as a doctor or an electrician. However, if your motivation to survey the land is centered on selfishness and doubt in God’s power, calling, and ability to fulfill His promises that is a whole other issue. Because then you’re not surveying the land to find a path through it, but to find excuses and reasons not to enter it in the first place.
When Moses went to God with this idea, he displayed wisdom because he wanted to determine if this plan was God’s Plan; whereas the people were demonstrating their doubt in God’s presence and power. It was a good idea, and in my mind, as well as all of the commentaries I consulted, it made perfect sense. It’s important to not only know where you’re going but also how to get there and what obstacles you are going to face on the way. Being prepared is important. The problem lies in the motivation behind the request.
As I stated last time, there are giants and fortified cities in my PL. On my own, I’m helpless. There’s nothing I can do on my own to conquer them. I confess that scares me (that control thing again). But I also know God brought me to this land, and as long as I continue to study His word and be faithfully obedient to Him, He will give me victory in those battles. I also know in the process, I’ll be blessed greatly by learning to lean on Him more and more until I surrender every last ounce of my desire for control to Him. And there, I will find true freedom.
Beloved, the lesson to learn here is when God gives us a directive, we are wise to follow. There are times we just need to follow it in true faith and trust. Where other times, we need to survey the land–but survey the motives of your heart first. Then ask God if surveying the land is in accordance with His Plan, and wait to see if He endorses the idea or just repeats the directive.
Journal exercise: Spend some real time surveying your heart and talking to God about your motives. If there are things you need to confess, do that now. If your motives are right, ask Him to help them not sour as fear creeps in. In either case, resubmit your life and purpose to Him.