Running toward Canaan

red-rocks-nightAt the top of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, at a Chris Tomlin concert, I had my Caleb moment.

Caleb’s story is in the Book of Numbers – when Moses sends 12 spies to investigate Canaan, the Promised Land. Forty days later 11 spies return and fearfully report that they felt like grasshoppers next to giants, that Canaan is a land that devours its inhabitants. “We aren’t going there,” cry the Israelites. “Take us back to Egypt!”

But not Caleb. Caleb is the one spy who returns with a different report: “I saw a land flowing with milk and honey,” says Caleb, “we can do this, because the Lord is with us, fear nothing!” Caleb has chosen to trust the God who parted the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army, the God who brought them through the wilderness and promised them a land of abundance.

That’s the spirit I’ve been praying to have – to be able to look at who God is for me, and not at my circumstances. I don’t want to believe that the “giants” in my life have more power than God. I want to believe what Jesus promises: that He has come so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). I want a life of abundance, and all that the word means. I want to cross over the Jordan into Canaan, the land of spiritual blessing and joy.

But how do any of us get around the fact that we’ve faced giants in our lives and felt defeated? It could be depression, sickness, job loss, fractured relationships … so many scenarios. For me, how do I get around the fact that I experienced the powerlessness, the hopelessness of being molested, of being raped, and that over the years I settled into a victim mentality, like a big comfortable couch from which to see the world? And when some person or experience came along that hurt me, it was so easy to run right back to my couch, curl up in a corner nursing my wounds, and feel the pain of being victimized all over again. It was like my own personal Egypt – the Lord had set me free, but I still had the slave mentality that wanted to go back.

During the past year I’ve been working with my spiritual director to uncover those beliefs and experiences that make me want to run back to the couch, and in the midst of doing all that spiritual work, I had my Caleb experience. I was driving past Red Rocks amphitheatre – the outdoor amphitheatre just minutes from my house – and the thought rose up in me that if Chris Tomlin ever came to Red Rocks, I would be there! His song “God of Angel Armies” inspires me each time I hear it: “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind, the God of angel armies is always by my side – I’m holding on to your promises, you are faithful, you are faithful.”

That very afternoon, a friend excitedly told me she was going to see Chris Tomlin at Red Rocks in three weeks! I knew instantly this concert was meant for me – the Lord was answering my heart’s desire – wow! My journey through the wilderness began… I got on the Red Rocks website – tickets sold out! During the next few weeks, I checked again and again to see if new tickets were available. Nothing. I kept talking to the Lord, “I’m keeping my eyes on your goodness, on your Father’s heart. I’m not going to look at the circumstances – I’m going to keep my eyes on your faithfulness.” A friend agreed to go with me and scalp tickets, but the morning of the concert she called and cancelled. “Really Lord?” As the time to leave approached, the weather worsened. Temperatures dropped, and the clouds were ominous – spewing out a few sprinkles of rain and hinting at a huge downpour to follow.

“If God really wanted me to go to this concert, wouldn’t everything have gone a lot smoother?” the little voice in my head reminded me – concert sold out, friend had to cancel, the weather looked threatening, actually pretty terrible. “No! I’m not going to look at those things, I’m going to trust what my heart is telling me – that this concert is for me!” Despite the circumstances around me.

I put some cash in my pocket and made the short 10-minute drive to Red Rocks. At the main entrance stood one guy with a sign: “Tickets needed.” For $60 I had a ticket in hand!

It turned out to be a perfect Red Rocks night – chilly, but the city lights below us sparkled like diamonds, and the sky above cleared up to reveal a celestial quilt of stars – and Chris not only played “God of Angel Armies,” he also played his new song – “God of Brilliant Lights.”

I felt like Caleb – the only spy who chose to focus on what the Lord had promised.

The lesson is embedded in my heart – I didn’t just sit at the Master’s feet to hear His teaching, I EXPERIENCED His teaching. I OWN that experience –  I own the knowledge that I didn’t give the circumstances more power than the Lord’s promises. I am an overcomer, not a victim. When circumstances piled up in front of me, I kept my eyes on the Lord’s goodness. I CAN not only get out of Egypt, I can stay out of Egypt! I’m running toward Canaan!

And He did it so gently – just a simple concert ticket.

Lord,  I pray for all of us to have the eyes of our hearts opened, that we grab hold of Your promises in our lives and don’t give power to the circumstances, to the lies the devil wants us to believe. You want us to be overcomers who collect life-giving water by trusting You, gaining strength along the way (Psalm 84). I pray that You shine the light of truth on our situations, to help us see the promises in Your Word, to turn our backs on the misery of Egypt and cross over the Jordan into Canaan. We are not victims! We are overcomers, more than conquerors, who each has a unique and pivotal role to play in your grand plan. Help us to be Calebs!