Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you." Joshua 2:8-9
They were both afraid…both sides of the river.
It was time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They were afraid. So Joshua sent two spies to Jericho and the spies found out that the people inside the land were afraid too. The Israelites were afraid because everything was changing and they were going to enter a new land and face challenges that they could only imagine. They were going to have to do things that were different and they were going to draw on faith they didn’t have yet. They didn’t know if they would succeed.
They also didn’t know that the people across the water were even more afraid. Interestingly, the Canaanites fear was more reasonable. They knew that Yahweh (“The Lord” in English) had given their land to the Israelites. They knew it. And like the Israelites, they didn’t know what to do with their fear. Eventually, most of them would just leave, but on this day with spies in the land, they were afraid.
Everybody was afraid.
Do ever look at your life and take inventory of what you are afraid of or at least what causes you anxiety? I may rarely feel fear, but there are often times where a certain circumstance will strike a chord that rings out ever so silently like a dog call to the fears deep inside. I won’t even know it, but my heart will beat faster, my mind will race, I will become irritable and my best self will lose control, handing it off to a self that is polished on the outside but anxious and bound to fear on the inside.
I think I am not alone.
Marketers and money-makers have learned to play these notes to us in order to drive our primal urges, to cause us to spend and busy ourselves for safety, comfort, performance, the expectations of others and the happiness of those we love.
When the spies saw the land and the fear in the hearts of the people, they knew that Yahweh had gone ahead of them and had prepared a way for them. Joshua would need to lead the people and give them the courage that shows that, ‘yes, The Lord is with them and has given them this land.’ Jesus is our Joshua.
As church planters (yes, “we” are church planters), our hope better be that The Lord has gone ahead of us. It certainly seems so to me. But fear kicks up. The unknown presents anxiety and the transition seem like it is taking forever! This winter, we are going to ‘cross the river’ and become a church on a weekly basis. Like the Israelites, we must know that The Lord has already prepared people to be a part of this on the other side. We need to know that if The Lord is leading this, He surely is opening the way forward.
I kind of consider myself a spy in this. As I talk to people, I sense that our community is ready, maybe not waiting, but deep down, they want to believe in God and are longing for a church to help that become real. I think we are that church and our moment is close.