This serves as a reminder to us. We can be like Joshua and Caleb, moving beyond a disengaged click of the "like" button to the deeper commitment of "follow," or we can be like those who cluttered their lives with indifferent attachment that lacked singular dedication. Notice Scripture didn’t say they DID NOT FOLLOW. Rather it added one word, wholly.
If something is not whole, it is incomplete. It’s a part. It's that state of being comfortable with the like button, but failing to truly engage. Not following wholly is following partially. Half-heartedly. Uncommitted. It's manifested in the same way Israel's fragmented devotion showed up. Complaining—even in God’s presence. Succumbing to weak imaginations rather than girding the spirit in the strength of what God has said. And those who did not wholly follow did not receive what God had set apart for them.
Like Israel, we can be faithless in the face of promised victory, our half-way obedience leading us half-way--to the threshold of our promise but not through the pressure to possess it. Following with limits is limiting. It starts with a grand beginning but leaves us with a bitter end.
Have you been there? Somewhat faithful. Yielding in some areas while holding on to others? Failing to fully surrender, only to find that you missed out on one of the biggest blessings God had for you? I have. For me, excuses and procrastination were more convenient than obeying the repetitive nudge of the Spirit. I was living for God, but when it came time to inherit my promise, I dallied when I should have dug in. My partial obedience was DIS-obedience, a refusal to follow wholly. Sadly, I discovered my convenient season wasn’t God’s timing, and I missed an opportunity I would have enjoyed. In retrospect, I saw I had laid down God’s Word somewhere along the way. I had failed to fight for what was mine, and I lost the battle I didn’t fight because I didn’t want to put forth the effort. I was too busy, and that made for haphazard handling of the precious, taking the treasure of God-whispers for granted. Maybe you, too, have stared in wonder at a God-inspired promise only to let your faith falter and fizzle when things didn’t unfold as you imagined--kind of like Israel collecting the wealth of Egypt at the onset of their journey then turning away from the land of milk and honey in fear. If you've been there, it’s probable that you, too, can see the pre-existing stubbornness, the lack of full surrender, and the frequent, repetitive retreats that established a precedent for back-tracking in pivotal moments and relinquished the joy you had once held precious.
Apparently, you and I…and Israel…aren’t the only ones who fail to follow fully. Jesus asked if He’d find faith when He returned. Total trust. Confidence in the face of giants. Whole-hearted devotion. Complete obedience. Full surrender. How will He find us? What will be our attitude toward the things He has spoken? Will we have followed Jesus beyond the spectacular beginning of deliverance to carry our cross, enduring through trial and testing? Will we have moved past the initial "like" to explore more of God and to devote ourselves entirely to Him? Will we be among the fighters, boldly facing the onslaught of opposition that threatens our spiritual inheritance? Will we have gripped the promise of victory when the enemy roared, or will we have thrown aside what’s rightfully ours, failing to possess because our partial following invited a flood tide of doubt and fear to sabotage the truth of what God had said?
Today, we stand again at the threshold of promise. We can remember past failures and learn from them, for thankfully, God keeps His end of the bargain, and in doing so, graciously provides us with second chances. We can take hold of the promises of God with a renewed, unshakable faith. Like Joshua and Caleb, we can hold fast in FULL faith, nothing wavering, whether we are walking through desert places, sitting near smoking mountains, withstanding carnal provocations, or facing giants. Let’s remember our grand beginnings and the promises God has made concerning our future and follow Him, “being fully persuaded that, what he” has “promised, he” is “able also to perform,” (Romans 4:21) and “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in” us “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6).
While it goes far beyond clicking an icon on a computer screen, following God in the manner that is fully committed sends the same message. "I like you. I'm behind you. I support you. I'm on your team. I'm engaged." It accepts the invitation to find out more about Him, and when we do, we discover the treasure that He is following us. That knowledge transforms our casual commitment to joyful covenant. Relationship becomes the key transforming disconnected right action into whole-hearted devotion. God, and, by default, His promises become worthy of our attention, our energy, our effort, our defending. We value who He is, what He says, and what He has provided for us.
Like a click of the "like" button, relationship may begin with curiosity, desire to do right, or spiritual pursuit, but when it becomes the center of our attention, it binds everything together-our mind, soul, body, and spirit-connecting us fully to God with total trust. With the boldness of Joshua and Caleb, we confidently cling to our promise because we "know in whom" we "have believed" (2 Timothy 1:12) We “cast not away” our “confidence, which hath great recompence of reward” (Hebrews 10:35). Instead, we will look to Jesus “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), “receiving the end of” our “faith, even the salvation of” our “souls” (1 Peter 1:9), a promise we can completely believe and fully defend, a promise we can inherit when we wholly follow Him.
Tip/Tidbit: Think about how worthy God is of your very best and recommit fully to Him. He has great blessings in store for you!