What’s next?! That was the question God’s children had to contemplate after God freed them from slavery in Egypt and set them on a course towards the promised land. The question stemmed from the uncertainty of not knowing how they would get to the land or what it would be like when they arrived.
In Numbers 13, God’s children were moving towards the land that prior generations had only dreamed of. Before entering, Moses sent a group of 12 spies into the land to scout it out so they would know what was in store for them. All the spies agreed that the land was the fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham, but it was occupied by people whom the 10 spies thought were too big to fight. Out of fear, those 10 spies said that they should forget about trying to enter the land and think of doing something else.
There is an irony to their attitude. Not too far in their rearview mirror was God’s actions of freeing them from Egypt via plagues and the parting of a sea. God had brought them through a series of challenges to get to the point where they were, on the way to the promised land. But had they forgotten all the victories God had allowed them to experience?
Only two spies did not come back in a panic over what they saw in the promised land. These two acknowledged that the people in the promised land were formidable and to get what God had promised them they would likely have to experience difficulties. These two spies never seemed to worry about the potential challenges they would face.
Instead of listening to these two, the people rebelled and tried to replace Moses, his brother Aaron, and the two spies. God’s response to this unbelief was that 40 years later, all the people who said that it could not be done were all dead having never set foot in the promised land. The two spies who said they should trust God not only made it into the land, but their families were given the best spots to occupy in the land.
With a global pandemic, social unrest, disrupted job markets, and all the other crazy things that continue to happen in our world, what’s next is the question we have all been asking. We have no idea what to expect on any given day. Security is no longer a given.
As we stand on this side of the promised land — the promised land being whatever it is God has planned for us in the future — waiting to see what it will be like, we have a similar choice to the one that the spies faced. View the uncertainty that comes with the journey to the promised land as an insurmountable challenge or remember all that God has done for us in the past and trust that God will show up for us again.
How the question “what’s next?” gets answered will likely be determined by our willingness to trust that God will continue to remain faithful to us and by our willingness to not be overcome by fear of the future.
May we remember God’s faithfulness and find confidence for the future in it.
Terrell Carter is vice president of community life and chief diversity officer at Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois, community team leader for Churchnet, and pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church in Webster Groves, Missouri.