Wonderer or Wanderer?

“Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel…”, the Lord said to Moses in Numbers 13:1.  After spying out the land for forty days, their reviews on a travel site would have looked like the following:

“It flows with milk and honey.” [5 stars]

“Lots of fruit…plump and juicy!” [5 stars]

“Cities are magnificent, but a bit overwhelming.” [3 stars]

“Land devours it’s inhabitants.  Unacceptable!
Will not return!” [1 star]

“Locals are of superior height and build.  We felt very uncomfortable…like grasshoppers!” [1 star]

“Exceedingly good…surpassed expectations.  Will definitely visit again.” [5 stars]

The sheer magnificence of the land and cities within the homeland God intended for His people, inspired wonder within Caleb and Joshua…awe-inspiring wonder at what God could do…and would do…to make this land their land.  That awe-inspiring wonder turned into confidence…the firm belief in God’s capabilities…that enabled them to proclaim, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it…If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us…Do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land…their protection has departed from them; and the Lord is with us.  Do not fear them.”

The people chose to heed the negative reviews and passed on the destination of a lifetime…literally.  The Lord informed the ungrateful, unbelieving crowd (Numbers 14:1-4) in Numbers 14:32, “Your carcasses will fall in this wilderness…Your sons will be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed.”

Are you wandering aimlessly, hoping and expecting that God will remove all the giants before you’re willing to follow His path and discover His plan and purpose for you? (Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11)  Are you looking for a less challenging way…one that doesn’t involve struggle?  Whether you choose to follow God’s path or blaze your own trail, know that along either, you WILL face giants.  God’s path often involves a struggle within ourselves, against the giants of fear, uncertainty, relinquishing control, and change.  However, on God’s path, He walk with us.  He who is “…Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Exceptional guide qualifications!) (Isaiah 9:6)  When we choose to blaze our own trail, we often face the giants of regret, guilt, cyclical dysfunction, loss of  direction, and falling short of where we hoped to be…or who we hoped to be.  On top of that, we often struggle with the consequences that come from poor decision-making due to our limited knowledge of what lies ahead.

Poet, Robert Frost, penned these legendary words in, The Road Not Taken, “…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”  There are far less ‘wonderers’ than there are ‘wanderers’ in this world.  Will you be a ‘wonderer’…filled with belief that God will guide you through the struggles and battles along the path, into His ‘promised land’ where your heart will feel at home?  (Psalm 32:8, Jeremiah 33:3) Or, will you be a ‘wanderer’…wandering aimlessly as you blaze your own trail through unknown terrain, forever trying to create what feels like a home, yet unable to attain the peace, confidence, and security that comes with truly being at home? (James1:7-8)

written by Renée Kelso Faith

4 thoughts on “Wonderer or Wanderer?

  1. Thank you, Renee! You have shifted my perspective on cyclical dysfunction, clearing the haze of indecision. It brings so much clarity when you consider, “Do I want to be a ‘wonderer’ or a ‘wanderer’?” The desire to follow our own “wisdom” (no apparent giants) leaves us at best disappointed, but more often off track and wandering from our real hope.

    What would you say set Joshua apart? Why was he willing to counter all others and wonder?

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    1. Comment from Renee Kelso Faith:

      Great question! I think Numbers 14:24 provides the key factor that answers your question about what set Joshua…and Caleb…apart as wonderers (Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9). The Lord Himself gave this reason in Verse 14:24, “But my servant, Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land…” In Numbers 14:30, the Lord informs the wanderers, “Except for Caleb and Joshua, you will by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.” Verses 37 and 38 depict the end destination for both the wanderers and wonderers, “Those very men who brought the bad report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord (Yeesh!), but Joshua and Caleb remained alive.”

      Caleb and Joshua were followers of the Lord FULLY…all in. How often do we blaze our own trail then invite God to join in and expect He’ll bless? How often do we expect God to remove all the difficulties and perceived inconveniences before we are willing to proceed, trust, and follow God’s path? Unlike the majority around them, Caleb and Joshua intentionally chose to wonder what God had in store for them as they followed HIS plans and path.

      For us today, Luke 9:23-25 captures the principle behind the wonderer versus wanderer concept perfectly. Wonderers deny themselves (lay aside their perceived needs, personal distrust, and unbelief), carry their life’s crosses, and follow God, resulting in saving their life…living alive. Wanderers preoccupy themselves with saving their lives; yet, ironically, end up ‘losing it’…not necessarily physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

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      1. Such a great response, Michelle! Thank you for taking the time to write this. You’ve added to the fullness of my understanding, leaving me with more questions, which is definitely a good thing! I really can’t wait for our next time together!

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