Dropping the ball is exactly what you think it means… dropping the ball. This has both a figurative and literal meaning in that when you play sports and fail to catch the ball, you just dropped the ball. In the figurative sense, dropping the ball is when you were responsible for something important but failed miserably because of lack of excellence or attention. To drop the ball is not a fun thing to experience as it’s a failure to pull through when it counted and it gets worse when we drop the ball when everything was going our way but we dropped it because of our refusal to pull through or lack of care.
As Moses is telling the history of the Israelites, He is getting to a point where the people dropped a colossal ball and is the reason why they have been wandering in the desert for forty years. To put things in perspective, they dropped the ball so hard and are reaping the consequences of it to such an extreme that for them to wander for forty years is such a ridiculous time because to go from Egypt to the promise land only takes about a weeks worth of walking! Yet that is what happens to us when we refuse to trust the LORD! We not only take longer than necessary to achieve the promises of God in our lives but we end up wasting time wandering.
One of the ways we can not drop the ball with God is when we choose to trust in God and actually follow Him! There is a ball coming your way today, are you going to catch it or drop it through your trust in Him?
NOTES ON THE TEXT
21 See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’
Again the LORD set the land for the Israelites to take. God encourages them to not fear but trust in Him. There is a quote that I heard in a podcast where the person was saying that, “everything you ever wanted was on the other side of fear.” Fear is one of the biggest obstacles that we have to go through to achieve and obtain the things that we want in life. One of the saddest ways we can ever live is a life that “could have been.” We are afraid to fail and thus live a life of “what if” but I’ve learned the hard way that I rather have tried and failed than live in this passive “what if” life. Fear is something that we have to embrace and go through. It says in the Bible that we should fear the Lord and so how are we to deal with this commandment?
When we embrace the fear of the Lord and go through it, what we realize is on the other side that our hearts wanted is the grace and presence of God. The fear of the Lord will always lead to His grace and presence. Look at Isaiah, when he saw the glory of the Lord, he wanted God to depart from Him but his fear actually drew near the presence of God. Same thing happened with Peter, where he knelt down in fear in the presence of Jesus but Jesus drew Peter near to become a fisher of men. To embrace and go through the fear of God is the road to glory so that we don’t bow down to fear of man or things of this world because when we are in the presence of a greater fear, all lesser forms cease to matter.
25 And they took in their hands some of the fruit of the land and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, ‘It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.’
26 “Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27 And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28 Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’
The people acknowledge that what the Lord promised was good but they still chose rebellion! Their fear led to murmuring, which led to a distorted view of God. Dropping the ball begins way before the action of sin, it actually starts when we choose to embrace fear of man rather than trusting in God.
30 The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God,33 who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.
Moses responds to the Israelites by saying that God will fight for them as He has already shown in Egypt. What I can see Moses asking them is why they are afraid now when they’ve seen the power of God? What has changed? The enemy may or may not be bigger but God being the greatest hasn’t changed! The Israelites failed to trust Him in this moment because for whatever reason they still did not have a complete and right view of God and thus they drop the ball on obtaining the promise land because they had an improper view of God. I think that is why when Joshua finally takes them into the Promise land, that there was a huge emphasis on meditating on the word of God because when we embrace His word in faith with the experiences, we are able to stay on course in trusting in Him as we obtain the promises of God. The Israelites experienced the miracles but may not have kept the word of close in their hearts. This is just my theory but from what I have heard from others and my own experiences, when we live by faith in the word, the experiences only further cement the truth in us but when we live in experience without the word, we are on shaky ground.
To not be fearful of the world, embrace the fear of the Lord so that you can walk towards the promises of God.
We begin dropping the ball when we embrace fear rather than fearful trust in God.
We drop the ball when we have an improper view of God. Meditate on His word so that you will have a strong foundation of trust in Him.