CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Wholly Follow the Lord
By Denise M. Kohlmeyer
Wholly follow the Lord. That phrase pains me, only because I struggle with giving my whole heart to the Lord. While I want to, there's a part of me that still wrestles with fear and selfishness. So I tend to keep a portion of my heart for myself — say, 10 percent. Not much, but just enough to make me feel like I have still some semblance of control — even if it is a false sense of being in control.
But Scripture is clear: God wants my whole heart. One hundred percent of it! He wants me to wholly follow Him and to love Him with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). He is a jealous God who doesn't want to share it with anyone else — including myself!
When I think of wholly following the Lord and trying to live it out, Caleb comes to mind. In the span of just seven verses, it is said — three times! — that he "wholly followed the Lord" (Joshua 14:8, 9, 14; and again in Numbers 32:12 and Deuteronomy 1:36). God Himself gives us a glimpse into the reason why Caleb was wholly committed to Him, saying of this fervent follower, "because [he] had another spirit within him, and has followed Me fully" (Numbers 14:24).
That "other spirit" was the spirit of one who was willing to go against the crowd and stand firm in his faith and belief in the Lord God Almighty. He wasn't willing to conceded to the pressures of his peers who faltered in their own faith to the point of compromise.
So it begs the question: Just how did he wholly follow the Lord?
Flashback to Kadesh-Barnea. After spending two years in the wilderness of Sinai — one of which was spent at the base of Mount Sinai receiving instructions for holy living through the Ten Commandments and constructing the Tabernacle — the Israelites, numbering close to two million, were finally ready to go in and possess the land which the Lord had promised them: Canaan. As they stood on the border, Moses was commanded by the Lord to send in a scouting party of 12 men, one man from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. And among the 12 was Caleb, son of Jephunneh, from the tribe of Judah.
The 12 spies went all throughout the land, surveying the situation. Indeed, they reported upon their return after 40 days, the land was wonderful, filled with good, rich soil, abundant crops (evidenced by the enormous cluster of grapes they brought back with them), towering trees, flowing waters, and large, established cities. In their own words, the land "flows with milk and honey" (Numbers 13:27).
There was just one problem: the inhabitants, all of their enemies ending with "ites," dwelt in the land. They apparently were, 10 of the spies reported, "stronger than we are" (Numbers 12:31). And that was enough to set off an avalanche of accusations and complaints from the people.
But listen to the next verse, "But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, 'Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.'"
How did Caleb know that they would be able to overcome the enemies of the land? Because he had faith in his God, Yahweh. This was the God, who two years earlier, had visited 10 destructive plagues upon Egypt and had graciously spared the Israelites from the devastating tenth plague then delivered them out of 400 years of bondage. This was the God who had then parted the mighty Red Sea so that they could cross it on dry land, then had released the waters to drown Pharaoh's entire army. This was the God who had led them over the past two years in the hot, barren wilderness, providing delicious manna and succulent quail, never allowing the two million to know hunger even for one second, even providing water from a rock, no less. This was the God whose presence had been literally visible to them all throughout their wanderings: in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
Caleb knew this God. He trusted this God. He believed in this God. He had, and would still, wholly follow this God wherever He led him, even into a land seemingly teeming with "strong people." Caleb knew, trusted, and believed God was stronger.
But the peoples' faith faltered. They had forgotten all that God had done for them. But it was their hearts that were truly revealed in this episode, hearts that were only partially — if that — following God, lacking in trust and belief that He could — and would — provide for and protect them.
And for that reason, all two million were consigned to wander another 40 years in the wilderness they had just left.
Oh to have a heart like Caleb's, one that is wholly — 100 percent — surrendered in faith, trust and belief in God Almighty.
Why? Because, like the Israelites, we will, and currently are coming up against a people who are seemingly stronger than we are (think of Isis and other terrorist groups who apparently want to destroy us). We, like the Israelites, might be prone to becoming fearful too. We may feel like "grasshoppers" compared to their destructive and demoralizing power.
But we must stand firm in our faith, like Caleb, even when others around us are faltering in theirs! Let us also remember the God of the 10 plagues and the Red Sea. Remember the God who redeemed two million Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, and who also redeemed you and me from the bondage of our sins and graciously transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Remember what He has done for us in the past, and what He is doing for us in the present!
Let us wholly follow the Lord, like Caleb.
"Wholly" in Hebrew, shalem, translates, "complete, safe, at peace." Caleb was completely at peace with his God. He knew Him, had an intimate, abiding relationship with Him, so much so that he completely trusted Him 100 percent to take care of him, even when going up against a seemingly-insurmountable obstacle.
And for wholly following his God, Caleb was wonderfully rewarded, given the southern fortified city of Hebron — where David first set up his reign as king — as an inheritance (Joshua 14:13). There, he ousted the three remaining rulers and lived out the rest of his days in peace, comfort, and safety.
And for wholly following the Lord, we too will be wonderfully rewarded, with life eternal in heaven. And we will then be wholly (completely) like Him in all His glory (1 John 3:2) and with Him in peace, comfort and safety. Forever and ever. Amen!
Image Credit: Unsplash; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth Christian-Life God-Father
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Published on 8-2-16