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God Fills in the Gaps

Updated: 5 hours ago

Numbers 13:1-2 NKJV

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”

Why did God send the Israelites to spy out the promised land (Numbers 13; Numbers 14) even though he had already promised it to them? Although the answer is not explicit in scripture, It seems that God values self and situational awareness. Why else would the Israelites need to know details about a land they had already been given? Why game plan when you know you have already won the game? The most plausible reason is that God wanted them to know the land's possibilities, limitations, and inhabitants in light of their abilities --- self and situational awareness.

The follow-up question then becomes, "Why does God value self and situational awareness?" Here, the most plausible answer seems to be that God fills in the gaps made known by self and situational awareness. The land of Canaan (the promised land) was rich in resources but inhabited by giants. Only two of the 12 men who went to spy out the land said they could inhabit it. Ten of the men concluded that they would not be able to. Their conclusions were rational: the Canaanites are big, and we are small. Therefore, we can't take the land. Or to use their words,

Numbers 13:31-33 NIV

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

But why did two men, Caleb and Hoshea (later called Joshua), see things differently? Why were they confident they could take the land? They were confident because they knew God could fill in the gaps. Although there was a large gap between the abilities of the Israelites and the Canaanites, Caleb and Joshua had confidence that God would fill in their lack of ability with his power and strength.

We can only see our need for a savior when we see our limitations and the situation for what they are. Without God, the Israelites would definitely lose to the Canaanites. With God, the Israelites would win. Without God, due to the limitations of their bodies, Abraham and Sarah couldn't have a child. With God, they conceived. Without God, David would have lost to Goliath. With God, he was able to defeat him. Without God, Gideon would have lost the battle against the Midianites. With God, he won. Each of these Biblical characters was well aware of their limitations and the situation they were in. More than anything, however, each character at some point in their story believed that God would make up the difference in their ability and their situation.

God would fill in the gaps.

Making it personal:

Recently, I went up to Nashville to look at a few houses. We are planning on moving there soon thanks to my new job. Before I went to Nashville, however, I had a sneaky suspicion that we couldn't afford the mortgage amount we were preapproved for, so the houses I saw were between $50,000 and $75,000 lower than our preapproved amount. Even then, I felt like we were pushing it. My confidence in going, however, stemmed from this leading from God that I needed to be like Caleb and scout out the land. 

Before the day was over, I had looked at seven houses with our realtor, and I had talked to our mortgage lender. I told our lender that based on our budget, I don't think we can go a penny above 25% of our monthly income in monthly mortgage payments. Based on our credit score, down payment information, and other factors, he plainly said, "Well, that's impossible." He informed us that there was no way we could buy a good house basically within about 45 minutes of Nashville with that budget. He said, very graciously, "that we should do our best to see if we could rework any numbers and give more to the mortgage. Housing in Nashville is a great opportunity, and it would be great if we could take advantage of it."

I'm not sure if he was aware of how much "reworking" I had already done, but I still heeded his advice and looked at our budget again. This time, thanks to our conversation with the lender, I would do it with more information about how mortgage calculators work. After reworking the budget, it turns out that we could afford 25% of our monthly income in monthly mortgage payments. Go figure. Our accurate mortgage amount was somewhere between $125,000 and $150,000 lower than our actual preapproval amount.

We have a gap.

With this gap glaring at Kadijah and me, we have two routes we could take. We could take the route of the ten men who looked at their abilities and rejected the call to the promised land ( for us, this would be Nashville). Or, we could take on the mindset of Caleb and Joshua. They looked at their abilities, reminded themselves of God's ability, and were filled with hope, confidence, and wholehearted devotion to God.

This housing decision won't put our lives in danger compared to their situation; nevertheless, the temptation to ignore our God, the one who can fill our gaps, is real. Despite this temptation, I'm going to choose to believe that God will somehow fill our gap. I don't know how or when, but I believe he will. I have surrendered my life to him, and I am confident that my family is in the hands of a competent and trustworthy savior.

As I drove home from Nashville, God reassured me about this posture. While driving, a huge thunderstorm rolled through middle Tennessee. At one point, I thought I had driven into a tornado because the trees were bending so hard. The rain was so heavy that many people pulled over on the side of the road because they could not see. I was a bit nervous, to say the least. But after the storm, I was treated to the most magnificent sight…

It may have been the biggest, brightest rainbow I had ever seen. This is a reminder that we serve a promise-keeping God. God has a promise concerning our family in Nashville. I believe God will keep that promise in his timing, with our obedience, and with his gap-filling power.

I trust you with our gaps God. Thank you Jesus in advance :)

A word against presumption:

It is tempting to hear and apply this story to your situation, and by God's grace, I hope it will apply! But be sure to apply it to the areas of your life that God has promised you, not the areas where you would simply like to be blessed. "All of the promises in the Bible are potentially yours, but they may not actually be yours." 1 If we go after things God has not promised us, we may find ourselves brokenhearted and defeated. This is exactly what happened to the Israelites after God had given the Israelites a new command concerning the promised land.

Numbers 14:39-45 NIV

... 39 When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly. 40 Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country, saying, "Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned!"

41 But Moses said, "Why are you disobeying the Lord's command? This will not succeed! 42 Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43 for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword."

44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord's covenant moved from the camp. 

45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.

I pray we believe that God will fulfill his promises in his timing and that we never try to live this life apart from his empowering presence. God wants to fill in the gaps for his promises. Let's all discern which promises he has given us and allow him to fill in the gaps concerning those promises.

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