“Papa!” The young boy ran and jumped into his grandfather’s open arms. A flock of children soon followed and gathered around the white haired man. He set Jonathon down, smiled and ruffled the hair of another little one standing beside him.
“Good morning, children.” He walked over to a nearby shade tree. “Let this old man sit down and rest his bones.”
The oldest girl held onto his elbow, gently lowering him to the ground to lean against the trunk of the tree. He looked at the young smiling faces, and felt that old pang of guilt that it was partly his fault they didn’t know their own grandparents. He made every effort to step in and treat all the children as he did his own dear grandchildren. “Thank you, Rachel. You are just as kind as your mother.”
Shy little Sarah tugged on his sleeve. “Papa, can you tell us the story again? Please?” A chorus of voices echoed her request.
“Of course I will,” he closed his eyes for a moment, taking himself back to the time that changed the lives of so many. He looked at the eager faces as he began to speak. “We were all excited, as it looked as if our long journey was finally coming to an end. We had reached the land promised to us by God. I was chosen, along with Joshua and ten other men to go ahead of everyone and report back to Moses.”
Even though the children had heard the story many times, it still amazed him how they always asked to hear it again. He never tired of sharing it, either. It was a lesson that needed to be remembered. “We made our way through the land, seeing all the wonderful blessings God had in store for us. The lush grass, the bountiful vineyards. The grapes were bigger than your head, Nathan!”
The boy grinned.
“It took two men to carry back a bunch of grapes! Imagine how much wine that would make. The figs and pomegranates, everything was better than we’d ever had back in Egypt. It truly was a land blessed by God!” He glanced upward in a silent prayer.
“We continued to scout out the land and finally came to a town. As we observed the people, someone behind me whispered, ‘They are huge! We can’t possibly fight them!’”
“How big were they, Papa?” another whispered, eyes wide.
“I heard another man say that we were like grasshoppers compared to them. Joshua and I tried to remind them of all the miracles God used to save us in Egypt. How God even used flies. Tiny little flies! What more can He do with each and every one of us? But they wouldn’t listen.”
He held back a frustrated tear, and continued. “We made our way back to our camp. It was a long trip listening to the others grumble. We had been gone forty days by the time we reached Moses and Aaron to give our report.”
“The others were scared, right, Papa?” Sarah asked.
“Yes they were. All they could see was how big the men were. They forgot how big our God is. I told them that we could still take the land. God said it was ours. The people wouldn’t listen to Joshua or me. They fell prey to the fear the ten were spreading. I wish I had fought harder to convince them, but they just would not listen. Instead, they wanted to return to Egypt.” The children leaned forward in expectation.
“Even though we saw some of the crowd picking up stones, we trusted God to protect us. Suddenly the glory of God surrounded us! It was amazing! God told Moses, ‘How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.’* But Moses spoke up to defend the people. God listened, but still made us wander for the forty years before we could come home.”
He sighed, “If only I would have stood stronger, maybe…” he stopped himself. “God used that time to teach us to trust Him, but we still failed him time after time. But, no matter how much we disappointed Him, He still protected us and brought us to our home.”
*Numbers 14:11-12 (KJV)
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