By Amber Kinloch
Back in early August, one of the readings at daily Mass came from the book of Numbers, Chapters 13 and 14. Here’s a short recap.
At God’s command, twelve scouts are sent out to reconnoiter the Promised Land. They report back that it is a wonderful land, flowing with milk and honey. But it is also inhabited by giants, compared to which the Israelites are but “mere grasshoppers.” The scouts, therefore, spread discouraging reports among the Israelites, who grumble and rebel, even threatening to stone Moses.
Naturally, this does not go over well. This generation of Israelites has already put God to the test ten times despite the signs He worked among them (e.g., the parting of the Red Sea and the manna from Heaven). The Lord’s goodness has been much tried, and only on account of Moses’ pleading does He not strike down the Israelites then and there. Still, they are punished, condemned to wander in the desert for forty years until the unfaithful generation is dead. Only then will their children enter into the Promised Land.
What struck me about this passage is the Israelites’ lack of courage. It’s not that God wasn’t willing to work with them. The problem was He couldn’t. They rendered His grace ineffective by their cowardice and refusal to trust.
What about us? How many times do cowardice and a lack of trust hold us back from rising to a higher plane of holiness? Think of the sins we habitually struggle with. Do we fail to overcome them simply because we doubt that we can? Or maybe we delay, saying, “Well, yes, I can do it…ten years from now.”
Or maybe God’s calling us to perform some good venture, but we hold back because we’re afraid of the effort it will require or what people will think or say about us.
The issue isn’t that God’s grace is lacking. A superabundance of it is always available to us. But we have to trust Him and avail ourselves of His grace. Only when we cease placing limits on Him can He help us soar heavenward like the saints.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.