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Staying Focused

How you respond to life situations is a byproduct of what you’re focusing on

By Evan Carlson, CEO & President

The story of the 12 spies that God asked Moses to send into the promised land to explore the land is a perfect example to illustrate how you can stay focused during your own Canaan moments.

The Israelites have already left Egypt. They’re roaming around the desert. They get to the edge of Canaan. It’s like they could just taste the promised land. And God says, “Send in twelve spies (not eleven, not thirteen) to explore the land” (Numbers 13:1). 

After exploring the land for 40 days, the men returned to Moses, his brother Aaron and the whole community of Israel to report what they had seen. They showed them the fruit they had taken from the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:25-27). 

I can imagine them holding up the fruit. But …. There’s always that but. “But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim clans. Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River” (Numbers 13:28-29 CEV).

Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it” (Number 13:30 NLT)! 

“But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. We can’t go up against them. They’re stronger than we are. So, they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites. The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there” (Numbers 13:31-32 NLT). 

It sounds like Lord of the Rings or something that crazy.

“All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them, we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought to” (Numbers 13:33 NLT).

Our differences distract us.

Have you ever noticed when your mind is focused on something and you’re certain you have found the answer, and then suddenly, somebody interjects their thought and you’re not certain that you have the answer anymore?

Stay Focused

In my family growing up, vacation was calm. We’d get up when we got up. We’d have a light breakfast. We may do something today, or we may not. My mom’s going to read a book in the corner. We may hang out at the pool. But in my wife, Kelly’s family, vacation is a sport and I lose every time. 

If we’re going to do Disneyland, we’re going to be there from the time the gates open until the gates close. You should buy your new shoes because you’re going to walk until you can’t walk anymore.

We can all relate to the differences in views when it comes to Covid, masks, vaccinations … and differences can sometimes jam you up. Someone starts talking about something and you’re like, “Wait. Hold on. How did we get here?”

Different viewpoints can cause distractions. And in this Canaan moment, you had the twelve spies going through the land, checking everything out. They saw milk and honey like God promised, and they also saw the giants. Caleb and Joshua, they were like, “Bring it on. God said it; we’ve been promised this land. Let’s roll.” 

And the other ten spies saying “Hold on. We saw something totally different than you saw. We saw these guys that were huge. We saw enemies on every corner.” They saw things that put absolute terror in them, and it jammed them up. 

Joshua and Caleb said, “Look, I’m not listening to you guys. This is what God’s Word has to say.” 

In order to fix your focus, you need to think about your response.

Your response in life is a product of your focus.

Let’s just talk about this real practical here. How can you have the same people going through that same exact journey with two different responses, both facing the same cancer diagnosis?  One is depressed, unable to overcome their fears and anxiety. The other is full of hope, full of peace and full of God’s strength. It’s all about what they’re focused on. 

Stay Focused

If you look back at the story about Joshua and Caleb, it doesn’t say in the Bible that the 10 spies went rogue. God told Moses to identify spiritual leaders within each of the 12 tribes. It wasn’t as though Caleb and Joshua were necessarily spiritual giants and the other ten were not. It’s easy to think these guys didn’t believe in God, that they were weak in their faith, but that’s not the case. They just didn’t have their focus right. 

You think about that popular vote thing. If Joshua and Caleb just decided to cave to the popular vote, that would be a totally different story.

Now, God eventually did what He was going to do through Joshua and Caleb because they stayed faithful to Him. We have faith, but oftentimes we get jammed up in our lack of focus. We believe in Christ. We believe in His saving grace and have faith that He can do it. He can overcome, but what are we focusing on that’s getting us sidetracked?

So maybe today you’re standing on the edge of something. Maybe you’re facing a Canaan moment in your health. Or maybe it’s something related to family. Is it relationships? When you’re standing on that edge, what choice are you going to make? Are you going to lean into to the hope of Christ? Or like so many, in this case, the majority – the ten that decided to go the other direction.

Read the second blog in this series.

Read the third blog in this series.