Friday, November 8, 2019

Are There G.I.A.N.T.S. in Your Promised Land?

The book of Exodus is a wonderful demonstration of God’s power and mercy.  He releases His people from slavery and also shows how powerless the gods and the Pharaoh are. The children of Israel ended up as slaves in Egypt because Joseph, one of Israel’s (Jacob’s) sons was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  Joseph, despite his rough start, ended up becoming a high-ranking leader in the Egyptian government.  He forgave his brothers. Joseph’s life shows us how God can use our circumstances to bless others. 

Joseph’s descendants did very well in Egypt.  So well in fact that when a new Pharaoh arose, he was afraid of the Israelites, because of their numbers.  He enslaved them, worked them without mercy and ordered that all baby boys born to them were to be killed. 

Enter Moses.  Pharaoh’s own daughter saved Moses as a baby, after he was sent adrift on the Nile.  Moses was raised a prince.  Eventually he was called by God to deliver His children from bondage.
God passed sentence on the Egyptian gods and the Pharaoh himself with the Ten Plagues.  God wanted to show His covenant people that He was the one true God.  They had been in Egypt for over 400 years, and needed a powerful demonstration of the God who had called their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and had covenanted with them to be their One and Only.

After the final plague, where Pharaoh’s own son perished, he relented and let the people go.  Pharaoh, once Moses and the people left, he changed his mind.  No one was going to get the better of him!
Moses and the children of Israel had one last epic encounter at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh’s army attempted to follow the people across the Red Sea, which had parted.  It closed over his army.  Moses and the people moved safely into the desert. 

The people grumbled and disobeyed every chance they could.  But God’s mercy never ceased; He provided for all their needs.  Even Moses defied God’s orders.  He could not enter the Promised Land.  That privilege fell upon Joshua.  The disobedient desert generation passed away.  Their children would be the ones to enter the land, conquer the tribes living there and possess it.  The Lord had promised this land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His covenant to His people is forever:  

"After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9 NLT)

Not only to honor the covenant made with the founding fathers of the Hebrew faith, God also tells Joshua another reason why the land is given to him and the people:  “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’”  (Joshua 1:13) [emphasis mine]

Isn’t that lovely?  The Promised Land was a place of rest.  No more slavery; no more babies killed and no more endless toil in the hot sun.  The children of Israel now have the freedom to worship the one true God of Israel.  He Himself is shalom—peace itself.

A place of rest…wow.  Does your Promised Land—the place where you dwell in Jesus because of the forgiveness of sin—full of peace and promise?  Sadly, when you are in “CoDeMo,” (Co-Dependent Mode) you are never restful or peaceful.  There is always something either happening, going to happen, or you are trying to recover before the next episode hits you. Why?  Because when we constantly engage with unhealthy people, and completely immersed our lives and energies into theirs, we are never at rest.  They are slaves to fear and they identify so much with chaos that they create it wherever they go. When you are in CoDeMo, their chaos becomes yours. 

You are now in bondage to your own fear—fear that they won’t like you or that you are not Christian enough if you don’t rescue them. 

Fear begets fear.    

But, you must realize that Jesus Himself is our rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30 NIV)

The writer of the Book of Hebrews phrases this way:

"For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.  There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience." (Heb. 4:8-11)
Our Sabbath-rest is in Jesus.  He saves us from our sinful selves and sets our feet on a path of peace.  But when you are CoDeMo, you are far from rest.  So what happened here?  God’s message to our hearts seems so far removed from our reality.  Because there are G.I.A.N.T.S. in our Promised Land, that’s why!

What kind of G.I.A.N.T.S.? Let’s go back to Word.  Moses sent out spies to search out the land, and bring back information about it and its inhabitants:  

"Forty days later, they came back from exploring the land. They came back to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. They gave their report and showed them the fruit from the land.  This is what they reported to Moses: 'We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here’s some of its fruit. But the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev. The Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the mountain region. And the Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and all along the Jordan River.'  Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, 'Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.'

But the men who had gone with him said, 'We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!' So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, 'The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.” (Numbers 13:25-32)

The men sent out to see what the Promised Land was all about come back with a dire report.  They are upbeat about the fruit, but then their fear bursts through and all they can focus on are the inhabitants.  The big and scary ones.  Only two men, Caleb and Joshua, have the confidence to go and take the land, because they know what kind of God they serve.  They saw abundance and a good land.  The people in it were fearsome, but Caleb and Joshua remembered God’s mighty hand against the Egyptians; a few Canaanite tribes were no match for their God.

The giants in the land did not cause Joshua and Caleb to fear.  They saw this as a chance for God to be glorified. 

What are the G.I.A.N.T.S. in our Promised Land?    

I would like to think we are more akin to Caleb and Joshua, and see God’s abundance and power rather than the “inhabitants” that cause us to fear.  But as CoDeWo’s (Co-Dependent Women), these G. I.A.N.T.S. inhabit our promised land—the one where we should be at rest in Jesus.  But faced with the overwhelming need to rescue others, here’s what we really experience:  

·         Guilt:  I must rescue this person/situation, because no one else will.  I will then feel a sense of bondage.  Because I see only myself as capable of helping others, I start to feel a kind of spiritual pride.  So my guilt that it is my responsibility to rescue someone and my pride that says only I can do it, puts me in bondage every time.

·         Identity:  I feel empty and I only know myself as I serve others.  I will then feel     confusion and disbelief of who I am in Christ.  I will resent the freedom other Christians show.  I don’t know who I am unless I am deeply involved in others’ lives.

·         Anxiety:  I must step in, but I am not sure if the person will listen and follow through with my help.  I see their poor choices and failures as my fault.  I will then step in again (and again), feeling a false sense of control over others and their choices; the consequences will be mine again to fix.  This cycle of rescue and worry causes me great anxiety. 

·         Needy:  All I see is need everywhere and in everyone one, including myself.  I will then feel I am not able to rest.  I put off my own healing due to all my frenetic activity.  I will always have a sense of impending doom:  Who’s next to be helped?  I want to hide away, put I don’t want to disappoint Jesus, so I am burdened all the time by the need of others.

·         Tolerance:  Despite my need to rescue, I never hold anyone accountable for what they do.  I am afraid to be truthful with them.  I fear their reaction.  I will then always be in unhealthy relationships.  My need to be needed defines any friendship I have.  I put up with a great deal in others, but allow no mistakes on my part.  I ignore the sin in others, their inconstancy and their dysfunctional reality in order to rescue them.  I want to speak truth and freedom, but fear their disapproval.  So, I tolerate a great deal all the time.

·         Sorrow:  I just can’t help everyone and I am utterly burdened.  People come to me with the same problems over and over, seemingly to never move forward.  I am constantly burdened.  I will then feel sad and depressed each day when I rise.  I want better for people than they want for themselves. 

Let’s summarize this up: 

G.I.A.N.T.S in your promised  land

OK, admit it:  you know what I am talking about as a CoDeWo.  It’s a kind of club we are in, and although we may feel special that we alone know what is best for people, it’s a lonely and fearful club, too. We think we are the only ones facing such mighty inhabitants, but listen to Joshua and Caleb:  These G.I.A.N.T.S can be defeated!

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