Have you ever noticed that people are captivated by bravery? Think about it. Every man loves the movie “Brave Heart”. Young boys idealize superheroes who fight crime and stand up against the bad guy. Young girls obsess over a knight in shining armor to rescue them from a burning castle.
There’s a yearning inside of all of us that deeply desires to be brave.
When we choose to follow God, there are times that he will ask us to do the impossible. We will be brought to a situation that forces us to make a choice: turn back in fear or go forward in bravery. I think those who try to fight against addiction and follow God are pretty brave people. Recovery will be full of hard decisions. There will be days when going back to your addiction seems like the easier choice, and it’s going to take every ounce of brave inside of you, to keep moving forward in hopes of a better life.
I love reading the Old Testament. Its full of real life stories we can learn from today. I especially love reading about the Israelites (God’s chosen people during that time). Wow, were they screwed up. I feel a little better about myself when I read about them. They were just regular people trying to figure out how to do this whole God thing too. They weren’t always perfect. They were rebellious, stubborn, and wayward. There’s one particular Israelite story I’m fascinated with. It’s where Moses sends 12 people into the Promised Land to spy it out and return with a report of what they found. Now let me give you a little historical background to this story.
Clift notes version: One day God shows up to Moses in a burning bush and tells him he wants to use him to save his people (Israel) out of slavery in Egypt. God wants to bring them into the Promised Land where they can worship Him freely and He can be their God forever. So God helps Moses and the Israelites escape from their slavery. He then leads them through the wilderness, right up to Canaan. Which was the Land he promised them. The only hold-up was, Canaan was currently occupied by other nations. The spies went in to check out the land. They returned with a bad report to Moses. 10 of them said there was no way they could conquer it because of the giants residing there. And only 2 of them trusted God that he would bring them through it and help them. Basically, the bad report led to a full-fledged rebellion where they wanted to overthrow Moses and find a leader that would take them back to Egypt.
Did you hear me right? They wanted to go back to Egypt. They wanted to go back to their slavery.
God had already repeatedly promised them that this would be their land and they didn’t have to be afraid. He promised them that all their enemies would be conquered. They failed to trust Him. Instead they looked at their circumstances and adversity and didn’t believe God was big enough to bring them through it.
We can look at this story and think how insane Israel was for this. They would rather be slaves in a foreign land than conquerors in their own land. But we do the same thing. God brings us out of Egypt; Our slavery to addiction. Our slavery to sin and destruction. He leads us through the wilderness all the way up to this new promised life he wants to give us. We go in, check it out, and realize what it’s going to cost. The giants who need to be defeated in order to walk in. And then, out of fear, we turn around. We walk away from the promises of God and go back to what we knew best. The old life was painful and miserable but at least it’s something familiar right? The unfamiliar is always scary. But if that life was so good in Egypt why did they leave in the first place???
Because of Israel’s rebellion, God caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and the only 2 people from that generation who ever saw the Promised Land was Joshua and Caleb. The 2 spies in the beginning of the story who trusted God to do what He said.
The sad truth is there are so many people who will choose to rebel against God and give up on their sobriety. They will return to their former life. They will forfeit seeing the promises He had for them. Promises of healing. Promises of family restoration. Promises of freedom from life-controlling addictions.
Are you willing to be brave?
Are you willing to leave behind the life you’ve always known to find a better one? I want to tell you that it’s okay for you to be brave. Maybe you’re scared. Maybe you’ve always wanted your life to matter but you don’t see how things could ever be different. Maybe you think it’s too late. Maybe you think you’re too young or too old to change. I feel very strongly that I need to tell you something. I feel like you need to know that it’s okay to become what you never thought you could become. Let yourself off the hook. Stop punishing yourself for the choices you’ve made in the past. Ask God to forgive you.
Then forgive yourself.