Safe in the Pleasant Land
Early Wednesday morning at the café I was sitting in a booth waiting for a young pastor to show up for breakfast. “Dave, remember me?” I stood up and looked into the smiling face of a mother, a nurse who had raised her three sons in our church. I hadn’t seen her in a while so I did some catching up. “How are the boys?” Her oldest played the godly big brother role for his twin little brothers. Their proud mom boasted about their graduation from college, new jobs, and the beginnings of families. Then she focused on her oldest, “Dave, you’ve probably heard about my son’s sterling military career. Just went to see him and a senior officer took me aside and said, ‘If you’re son keeps going like this, there’s nothing blocking him from becoming a general. He’s got the right stuff.’” Then I noticed some worry begin to creep into those proud smiling eyes. “I just got word. My son has decided not to keep going in his military career. He’s going to learn Arabic and then join a close friend who’s embedded in a Moslem majority country coming alongside indigenous believers to strengthen them and equip them to help their countrymen meet the ultimate Prince of Peace.”
What do you say to a mom whose son has faced the dangers of fighting for our freedom, but now wants to face possibly even greater danger seeking to accomplish the mission of the Church?
Psalm 106:24-27 talks to us about a group of parents who faced a dangerous land and became paralyzed with fear because they believed they would lose their kids if they obeyed God’s Word. Here’s how they responded.
“Then they rejected the pleasant land; they did not believe His word. They murmured rebelliously in their tents and did not obey the Lord. So He lifted His hand and made a solemn promise that He would make them fall in the wilderness, make their seed fall among the nations and scare them throughout the lands.”
In Numbers 13 we have access to the full story the psalmist is remembering. Moses sent twelve spies to spy out the land of Canaan. Ten came back saying that it was too dangerous. “There are giants in the land.” Fear gripped the majority of Israelite parents. “We will be killed and our kids will become Canaanite slaves.” The irony is that all these parents died in the wilderness, and their kids twenty years old and under at Kadesh Barnea got to cross the Jordan and see God’s victories with Joshua and Caleb.
Before we hugged goodbye the mom said, “Dave, since my boy was born I’ve asked the Lord to make him godly. He’s definitely answered my prayer. So I said, ‘I’ve been proud of you as an officer in the U.S. Military. I’ll be prouder still as you prepare to join your friend in fulfilling Christ’s mission for us to make disciples in every nation and this includes Islamic nations.”
May the Lord use these two young men as they seek to help others to learn of the ultimate pleasant land that only Jesus can guarantee.
Note for prayer: One of my students from Southern Bible, a gifted teacher, is now helping children learn to read in a Middle Eastern Country and embodying the presence of Jesus in this special place. A friend is in Jordan working with refugees from Syria, while another is seeking to establish an indigenous church among a group of people where there is no local church witness. Jesus is ultimately the most powerful force there is against terror and the safest place any of us can be is right in the place where the Spirit is seeking to establish Jesus’ Kingdom.
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