40 Years June 2017
When I was a little boy back in 1957, I loved science fiction. Time travel was my favorite. Now 60 years later, I have time traveled in some ways. Many of the things envisioned all those years ago, have come about: instant global communications, super highways, flying cars, laser medicine, etc.
Far in the past, two fellows named Caleb and Joshua had a situation. They and ten other tribal leaders went to explore the promised land, the destination of the people of Israel. They had been released from slavery in Egypt. As they traveled, God promised them a land of milk and honey. The ten others returned from their spy mission to report giants and fortified cities. “If we go in, we will surely die,” they reasoned.
Caleb and Joshua said: “So what? We have God on our side. The Ark of the Covenant will go before us. Let’s go!” However, the Israelites decided not to proceed. God gave them 40 years in the desert to think about their lack of faith. Can you imagine being Joshua and Caleb? They were both about 40 years old when this desert living started, and they did not come out of it until they were 80. Everyone in their generation died except them. They watched them perish. Even Aaron and Moses could not go in.
God’s promise of this glorious land was dwelling in their minds all that time. What were Caleb and Joseph Joshua feeling through those decades? Did they blame themselves for not being persuasive enough? Were they angry at the others who had trapped them into 40 years of desert isolation? Were they fearful of God who was grieving because of the rejection of his gift of this homeland, this Israel? Did they wonder if the two of them had gone in alone whether they could have succeeded?
We too face these challenges as we tell others of the promise of Heaven. Though we know we are bound there, we understand that we have decades in which to endure this earthly life. We grieve for those who do not have the peace we have found. This does not rob us of Heaven. Caleb and Joshua finally went into their promised land just as we will.
The peace of turning things over to God is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is an every-ten-minutes experience. Even the very last moments in a life can provide a choice. When it is our time God asks, “Will you give your spirit to me?” Even Jesus “cried out again in a loud voice. ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ Then he gave up his spirit.” Luke 24:44-49 And, he ascended into Heaven and sat at the right hand of God. By faith we attain Heaven. Because we know the love of God who gave his son and we believe it, Heaven is ours. Knowing that promise, permits us to carry on for the years and years between the acceptance of the gift and the opening of the gates into it.