Sunday, March 14, 2010


In numerous places Caleb is described in the Old Testament as "one who has a different spirit and follows God wholeheartedly".

A friend asked me to consider and share thoughts I have on the development of a wholehearted relationship with God. So as I began to ponder this, I thought: "In a word, why do I think people avoid developing a whole-hearted relationship with God." The word that came to mind is fear.

Then I wondered if that word is going to have a thing to do with Caleb's story. I was pleased to find that it did.

When Caleb got back from spying on the land, in the book of Numbers, he told Moses and the people what he saw. The people didn't like what they heard. Their reaction was fear. Caleb's reaction was loyalty to God and faith in God. Caleb was not afraid.

A wholehearted devotion to God is in part a persistent willingness to be honest with ourselves and with God about what we are afraid of. When God graces us with faith that overcomes our specific list of fears, we know a deeper more personal relationship with God.

That process of being honest with God about our fear and working through it with the Lord develops a relationship of love and trust with God. You find out he doesn't zap you when you admit to weakness and vulnerabilities. Instead He wisely and graciously provides you faith and strength and whatever else you need. Honesty unlocks so much potential in any relationship. I find that to be especially true with God.

God celebrated Caleb's reaction of faith with a promise. He promised that he would live to enter the land plus a gift of a whole big chunk of it. God expressed his deep frustration with the ones who had seen all the miracles of the Red Sea etc and responded with fear. God decided they were not going to be allowed to enter the land.

Knowing that God gets frustrated with the our lack of faith, when he's done so much, shouldn't be a motivator to ignore our fears and just get to work for God. But it should tell us something about what we're missing if we haven't noticed or truly believed how trustworthy and faithful God is.

This is also why I believe the "Father of lies" is so effective at making us ineffective. He knows how to feed our fears with lies. He tells us just enough to paralyze our faith or to make us just self righteous enough to not choose dependence on God. We have to discern in partnership with the Holy Spirit truth from lies. If we don't pay attention to any of this we default to lie believing. If we do pay attention, we spend less time in double-mindedness. A double minded person does not feel wholehearted towards God.

I guess in summary this is what I'm thinking:
To develop a wholehearted relationship with God is in part to acknowledge your fears. To ask God to grace you with a developing faith so that with God, they can be overcome. Faith and loyalty to God are traits that grow over time. When you demonstrate faith and loyalty to God you can be sure that God is pleased.

P.S. Since I initially wrote this I've had time to think about my own life. I have for years been able to say. I know I don't trust God enough. I long to trust God much more than I do. This honest and simple insight has opened the door for many good things in my relationship with the Lord. I have learned to pay attention when I know I'm not trusting God. How do I know I'm not trusting? Truths I have said I believe are not how I choose to live. When that realization happens, I ask God to reveal why I don't trust him. That has meant owning up to being afraid. That is humbling. But once I tested the waters in an area or two and I survived. Actually I've done much more than survived, I received gracious gifts from my Father in Heaven that in one way or another have bolstered my faith. These gifts have without a doubt increased my willingness to be open and honest with God. Praise God the cycle continues: doubt, fear, honesty, seeking, grace, faith, deeper dependence.

God is working in my life to replace fear with faith and this work has been the reason for much of the trust I know in God today.

So to the friend that asked me to think about this, thank you. It has been extremely helpful to me and helped me put some things together that I had not, yet seen.

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