4. Wilderness Manual–Fear of Failure (13-14)

Fear of failure is the a deadly two edged sword to the spirit of a man or woman. On forward edge, a person retracts from putting forth his full strength, for fear that he will be utterly destroyed. On the backward edge, the person refuses to accept his failures, for fear that he will miss out forever on what their fear on the forward edge has cost them. Both are edges of the same sword held in the grip of a person who is desperately trying to maintain his own pride in himself. Once, I did sloppily on a musical composition project for school which I believed God gave me to do, because I was afraid I would utterly fail. It utterly failed. My reaction was, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.” and proceeded to fail at getting it ready again until I had to give it up. It remains to this day one of my most shameful moments as a composer, and as a follower of Christ, and it nearly ended my desire to write music ever again.

Principle: In Numbers 13-14 Israel went right up to the promised land, and sent Twelve spies to search it out. Ten said, “It’s beautiful, but we can’t do it.” Two said, “It’s beautiful, and we can do it!” The people believed the Ten, and the four who remained (Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb) fell on their faces and pleaded with the people, but the people got ready to stone them with stones. Once more God shows up, and he is so angry with his people, he tells Moses that He will restart with Moses, but Moses intercedes, and God relents from what He is about to do. He says this to Moses in Numbers 14:21-25~

So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it . . . turn tomorrow and set out to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”

It took a different spirit to be allowed to enter fully into the promised land. Because God is seeking for His glory to fill the earth, He cannot allow those who preserve their pride by fear to enter into the blessing of His kingdom. This is why the Lord requires that we follow Him fully, and this is another thing the wilderness is designed to teach us: to follow the Lord fully.

The people of Israel are devastated, and they try to go up and take their possession anyway, but Moses tells them not to because God is not with them. They go anyway and many of them are slaughtered.

Application: You will fail. Let it humble you. Do not preserve your own dignity or pride or self-sufficiency. Do not take power into your hand to do what you need to succeed to do. Instead, Remember what Zerubbabel needed to learn in Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord.” Your failures will be plentiful and consequent. Let them strip away your pride, and look to God for how He wishes to accomplish His Victory through you for His kingdom. Only then can you follow Him fully by His Spirit’s power. I am fairly confident that His humbling of you in the wilderness is the only way you can learn this because the Wilderness will prove your sin and utter powerlessness, and God’s unfathomable power.


The Problem: Self-Salvation

Thanks Tim Keller for helping me with that phrase.
– – Dear Reader,
– – You have read lots. Here’s something else. I’ve been sick with a grueling fever for the past week or so, and I’m tired of it. As soon as I sit up, I start throbbing in my head. People are depending on me for so many things. I have responsibilities. Children to lead in song, home-bound family who need to go into town, and this is not to mention my truck which needs fixing, my laundry needs to be done, and I have about 2 hours of upright energy a day before my fever goes up a single degree. Thankfully my family are around to care for me, and take care of pressing needs as they arise. Things came to a pretty weepy head today when I had to skip work at school. I cried out, “God please come get me!” from my curled up blanket on the couch, wracked with weariness and worried-ness.
– – Finally. He really does listen. He just listens better than we do to ourselves. I could tell you countless times I had asked him to heal me because people depend on me. But now the problem comes down to just me living with me. What kept crushing down on me was the weight of everything I had to do, and just could not do. I had to partially delegate it to my boss.
– – I know He listens every time, but He responds to honesty. Suddenly, in that moment, I found myself writing in my journal, “Thank you for saving me from my own self-salvation.”
– – I like to think I can fix things. I can do it. I can handle life. I can face challenges. I can manage my time, my relationships, my money. And so I can, or at least act like I can. But what happens when all that power is gone? You go to your power source and have the balls to ask him, “Get me more power, so I can take care of things myself, so I will not need you to save me, cause if you save me, that means I have to completely serve you alone.” That’s what I’ve been doing anyway. I wrote this down after that realization:
“Let’s face it. We’re all a bunch of sucky self-saviors.” I slept with peace after that, ’cause I know my Savior is real. He won’t save everything important to me. That’s not His job. His job is sustaining the cosmos, just like he showed Job. And in the End his Wise plan is best.